New in paperback. Hardcover was published in 2002. Edited by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow.
This book is the first of its kind - the personal memoir of a law clerk to a member of the Supreme Court of the United States. John Knox (1907-1997) served as private secretary and law clerk to Justice James C. McReynolds, arguably one of the most disagreeable justices ever to sit on the bench, during the tumultuous year when FDR attempted to "pack the court" with judges who would approve his New Deal agenda. The epitome of the overzealous young man, Knox kept a meticulous daily record of his life and surroundings, a practice he had begun as a lonley high school student and continued through his studies at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and Harvard. Part scrapbook, part social commentary, and part recollection, his memoir reveals an unprecedented insider's view of the showdown between Roosevelt and the Court. At the same time, it marvellously portrays a Washington culture now long gone, in which most justices worked from their homes, supported by a small staff.This unlikely cast of characters includes Knox, who continually fears for his job under the notoriously rude (and nakedly racist) justice; Harry Parker, the messenger who does "everything but breathe" for the justice; and the maid, Mary Diggs, who with the others plots and schemes around her employer's idiosyncracies to keep the household running. A substantial foreword by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow sets the stage, and a gallery of period photos of Knox, McReynolds and other figures of the time gives life to this remarkable document, which like no other recaptures life in Washington, D.C., when it was still a genteel Southern town.