The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977

Book Reviews

Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black
America's Struggle for Equality. By Richard Kluger. (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. Pp. xxxiii+ 823. Bibliographies and biblio-
graphical essay, indexes. $15-95-)
"This touches the deepest roots of human emotion." Such was Texas
Attorney General John Ben Sheppard's assessment of the Supreme Court's
1954 decision in Brdwn v. Board of Education. His words are equally ap-
plicable to Simple Justice, Richard Kluger's brilliant history of that case.
Utilizing well over one hundred interviews and material from numerous
manuscript collections, some still in private hands, Kluger recreates the
events which led to the historic ruling that school segregation violates the
Constitution. Penetrating the veil of secrecy surrounding the deliberations
of the Supreme Court, he reveals serious disagreements over policy and
judicial procedure and credits Felix Frankfurter, and particularly Earl
Warren, with uniting the justices behind a single opinion. His book is
more than just a behind-the-scenes look at the Court, though. Its most
moving passages are those which depict the deplorable conditions that
characterized the South's separate but unequal Negro schools and the eco-
nomic coercion and sheer terror which often bulwarked segregated educa-
tion. With superb biographical sketches Kluger brings alive the judges,
lawyers, civil rights workers, and ordinary black people who fought and
finally defeated segregation.
Ranging outward from Brown and its companion cases, he seeks to tell
the whole story of the Negro's long quest for equality before the law.
Southwestern readers will find particularly interesting his accounts of the
litigation which destroyed the white primary and forced the integration
of the University of Texas Law School. Unfortunately, Kluger tries to do
too much. He examines many matters of marginal relevance and sketches
several characters who were only bit players in the Brown drama. The
further the book wanders from its subject, the more dependent Kluger
becomes on standard secondary sources and the less he has to say that
is new. His writing style, despite some colloquialisms and hyperbole, is
extremely effective, and even the detours are interesting. But Simple Jus-

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 29, 2015.