With Justice for Some

Politically Charged Criminal Trials of the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today's America

Non-Fiction - Historical
446 Pages
Reviewed on 08/08/2018
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Author Biography

What inspired me to write about these cases is wanting to share with others the un-whitewashed underlying stories we never learned in school. I originally researched these famous trials to compare their impact and that of other 20th century headline criminal trials to the often overlooked 1968 Huey Newton death penalty trial. I came to view the Newton trial as "THE" trial of the 20th century (I have written two books on that trial and am producing a documentary on it as well -- American Justice on Trial) .

After the 2016 election, I saw the extraordinary relevance of these early 20th century trials to America today. Progress is never linear.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ken Stark for Readers' Favorite

With Justice For Some: Politically Charged Criminal Trials of the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today's America by Lise Pearlman is an in-depth look at thirteen of the most socially relevant criminal trials of the early 1900s. Some of them were media events, some were landmark cases, and some are all but buried under the dust of time, but each one sent ripples through a US justice system rife with corruption, bias and political maneuvering. No one could have known at the time that these trials were only the opening scenes in a drama that would still be playing out a century later as good people continue to fight for justice for all instead of justice for some.

With Justice For Some is a fascinating read. Where another author might have provided a dry, impersonal history lesson, Lise Pearlman puts us in that time and place with the dexterity of a master storyteller, describing all of the social and racial tensions of the time and letting us peek behind the curtain to see the machinations of politicians, media and power brokers trying to swing public outrage one way or the other. And I particularly enjoyed how Pearlman linked certain aspects of the trials together, weaving them more into a tale of a country coming of age than just a series of individual case studies. With Justice For Some shows how far we've come, but considering the strikingly familiar political rantings, media circuses and endless sources of false information and hate speech we have today, it also shows that maybe we haven't come quite as far as we think.

Gisela Dixon

With Justice for Some: Politically Charged Criminal Trials of the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today's America is a non-fiction book that looks back at some of the most famous trials of the 20th century in America. The book starts off with some background information on what inspired this book and the political climate of today, which has once again brought issues of race, nationality, and human rights to the forefront. In this book, Lise Pearlman takes us through some of the famous or infamous trials of the last 100 years including the Henry Thaw and Evelyn Nesbit case, trials revolving around false charges, framing, and open injustice against African Americans in the earlier part of the century in the South, the trials involving lynchings and the KKK, the trial that led to Hawaiian statehood, trials with immigrant bias, etc. In all of these narratives, Lise Pearlman provides a detailed breakdown of the case and the actual facts including newspaper cuttings of those times, photographs, evidence, and information which add to the research and analysis of the cases.

I found With Justice for Some by Lise Pearlman to be an immensely fascinating book. Not knowing what to expect, I anticipated a true but stark account of these groundbreaking cases, which is all there. However, Lise Pearlman’s writing style really elevates this from what could be a dry, legal discourse into a fascinating, insightful, and engaging look at what really happened. With Justice for Some shows the true nature of American history which the world, and Americans in particular, should be aware of—a lot of American history is ugly and cruel, and one must learn, accept, and be better for it going forward. I would very highly recommend this book to everyone.

Joel R. Dennstedt

“Progress has never been linear.” One of the most difficult things to bear is blatant injustice. Not just difficult to suffer or to witness, such raw unfairness is also uncomfortable to read about. Lise Pearlman, in her masterful and exquisitely researched book, With Justice for Some, still manages to convey throughout her troubling historical account of our nation’s most significant and bitter trials the silver lining, though tarnished, of a tortured path to progress. Pearlman’s work is not strident, nor angrily polemic. It is a highly objective and rigorously academic revisiting of the often shameful practices tainting an otherwise admirable jurisprudence. And though historically remembered and celebrated legal heroes sometimes surface to inch us forward, sadly they are usually too ahead of their own time to foster true justice in the moment.

From the assassination of William McKinley to the Scopes Monkey Trial to the Lindbergh Baby Kidnap/Killing, the focus of Lise Pearlman’s fascinating look into “Politically Charged Criminal Trials in the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today's America” is spellbinding and meticulously detailed, as well as hugely relevant to American justice as it stands today. Ms. Pearlman is fastidious about addressing drama vs. politics, injustice vs. progressive consequences, and historical context vs. modern attitudes regarding those horrid traits in the American psyche that continue to raise their ugly heads, even if now more subtly expressed. Bigotry and blatant xenophobia are the most frequent villains in this often controversial contest for American justice, but Lise Pearlman offers a spellbinding front row seat to any curious, uncomfortable, yet sure to be affected spectators.