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Notebook of a Sixties Lawyer: An Unrepentant Memoir and Selective Writings.

In the beginning there was Lenny Bruce, whose acid commentaries on the culture jolted Michael Steven Smith out of what appears to have been a conventional middle-class Milwaukee childhood. At the University of Wisconsin in the student-activist 1960s, Smith joined the antiwar movement and discovered the writings of Leon Trotsky. With a brand new law degree, he settled in Detroit - immediately after the 1967 riots - to practice community law at $50 a week. He defended GIs who resisted the Vietnam war, including the famous Fort Jackson Eight. In New York, he practiced public-interest and poverty law, was active in the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, and helped run its publishing arm, Pathfinder Press, until he was expelled from the party in one of the periodic bloodlettings that characterize that segment of the Left. He's now in private practice in New York and active in the National Lawyers' Guild. Smith details all of these aspects of his life, and more, in this "notebook," which is part memoir and part miscellaneous articles and memoranda. The writing is pedestrian, and one could wish for more insight and analysis. But Smith was in many of the good fights of the last three decades, he was always on the good side, and there's lots of good fight left in him. His memoir concludes, "There is much about which to be unsubmissive."
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Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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