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Louis D. Brandeis

American Prophet


Jeffrey Rosen (View Bio)
Hardcover: Yale University Press, 2016.

Louis D. Brandeis

In this riveting new life of the leading progressive justice of his era, Jeffrey Rosen sees Louis D. Brandeis as “the Jewish Jefferson,” the greatest critic of what he called “the curse of bigness,” in business and government, since the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Published on the hundredth anniversary of his Supreme Court confirmation on June 1, 1916, Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet argues that Brandeis was the most far-seeing constitutional philosopher of the twentieth century. In addition to writing the most famous article on the right to privacy, he also wrote the most important Supreme Court opinions about free speech, freedom from government surveillance, and freedom of thought and opinion. And as the leader of the American Zionist movement, he convinced Woodrow Wilson and the British government to recognize a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Combining narrative biography with a passionate argument for why Brandeis matters today, Rosen explores what Brandeis, the Jeffersonian prophet, can teach us about historic and contemporary questions involving the Constitution, monopoly, corporate and federal power, technology, privacy, free speech, and Zionism.

"The brilliant, crusading Brandeis is the subject of Jeffrey Rosen’s excellent Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet…. a concise and sympathetic exploration of Brandeis’s main intellectual causes. It is well titled: Brandeis resembled an Old Testament prophet . . . with his highly articulated moral vision and true believer’s zeal. It is also well timed: Mr. Rosen persuasively makes his case that recognizing Brandeis as an 'American prophet' 'seems more important today than ever.'" — Adam Cohen, The New York Times

"Eloquent, insightful and compact .... Rosen's accessible prose makes a difficult intellectual feat look easy. He provides an excellent introduction to Brandeis's ideas about government regulation and big business, free speech, technology and privacy, and Zionism." — The Washington Post

"A tightly written, tightly reasoned biography aimed at readers who are not legal scholars." — Kirkus Reviews

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