Redoubtable Thomas

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Of all the lovely presents I received this Christmas, one of my favorites is a gift from my in-laws: The book My Grandfather's Son, the memoirs of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas is one of my favorite Supreme Court justices, not only because of his respect for the Constitution and his incisive legal mind, but for the character he displayed under assault during his confirmation and in the years since.

So far, I've read through his childhood in Pinpoint and Savannah, Georgia, his years in seminary, and his decision to enroll in Holy Cross College, in Worcester, Mass.

During my tenure at FlightSafety, I took several business trips to Savannah and spent every free hour exploring the city, particularly the historic district. I drove through Pinpoint, a little fishing village along an estuary south of town, near the Bethesda orphanage. Thomas grew up in a part of the city I've never seen; as he put it, "Savannah was hell."

Tonight I started reading the book to my two older children, ages 11 and 7. While I won't take them through the whole book -- at their ages they don't need to know about all the ugliness of his confirmation hearings -- I think they'll benefit from hearing his vivid descriptions of the poverty in which he spent his early years, the hard work and discipline of his years living with his grandparents, and the impact of racism on his life. I read part of the first chapter to them tonight and both of them were disappointed when it was time to close the book and go to bed.

Many political memoirs -- including some written by conservatives -- aren't worth the paper they're printed on. My Grandfather's Son looks to be not only an insight into one of America's most influential men, but a book full of valuable life lessons.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 28, 2007 11:21 PM.

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