Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. aspired to be a poet and philosopher, was wounded in the Civil War, courted aristocratic women, became one of the greatest judges in American history, and lived long enough to give advice to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We see though Holmes’s eyes, and his searching intelligence, almost a century of American history and the slow growth of a new understanding of the Constitution.
“An ideal biography for the intelligent general reader... the fascination [Holmes] exerts, a combination of toughness and style, shines through this book.” — The New Yorker
“[Novick] is the type of scholar who, though trained in law, asks Harvard’s Arnold Herbarium to identify some leaves pressed into an old love letter... One opens his book with high hopes, and as chapter follows masterly chapter the hopes mature into admiration of author and awe of subject.” — Edmund Morris, The New York Times
“The book’s strength lies in its fast-paced vividness of narrative and its steadiness of belief in the wholeness and stature of Holmes as a man... Novick tells Holmes’s story with verve, insight, and a command of his material. Even his footnotes capture the reader.” — Max Lerner, The New Republic
“[Holmes’s life] is stuff for great biography and Sheldon M. Novick has given us just that... a work of original and exact scholarship... concise and readable, yet provides enough historical and legal background to enable the nonspecialist to read the book with comprehension and pleasure.” — Hon. Richard A. Posner, The Wall Street Journal
Born in New York City in 1941, Sheldon Novick graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Antioch College, and Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He was editor of Environment Magazine and wrote books and articles on environmental subjects (The Careless Atom had the first public account of the “China Syndrome”) before leaving St. Louis in 1977 to practice law in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. For six years he was a regional counsel for the US Environmental Protection Agency. In 1987, he moved to Vermont and started a new career as an author and teacher. He continues to teach at Vermont Law School as Adjunct Professor of Law and History.
Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes was the first full biography of Holmes based on unrestricted access to the Holmes papers. Published in 1989, it received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and was short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award. After the biography appeared, Novick was invited to prepare the quasi-official Collected Works of Justice Holmes published by the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise and the University of Chicago Press.
His biography of Holmes’s friend and rival, the novelist Henry James, was published in two volumes, Henry James: The Young Master (1997) and Henry James: The Mature Master (2007).
Featured in the forthcoming documentary, RBG
“The authors make this unassuming, most studious woman come pulsing to life. . . . Notorious RBG may be a playful project, but it asks to be read seriously. . . . That I responded so personally to it is a testimony to [its] storytelling and panache.”— Jennifer Senior, New York Times
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she has only tried to make the world a little better and a little freer.
But nearly a half-century into her career, something funny happened to the octogenarian: she won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg first made her name as a feminist pioneer are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute.
Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg's family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.