• Showdown

  • Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America
  • By: Wil Haygood
  • Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
  • Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (240 ratings)

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Showdown  By  cover art

Showdown

By: Wil Haygood
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
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Publisher's Summary

Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In this stunning new biography, award-winning author Wil Haygood surpasses the emotional impact of his inspiring best seller The Butler to detail the life and career of one of the most transformative legal minds of the past 100 years. 

Using the framework of the dramatic, contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative and moving look at Marshall's life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped - or desperately tried to stop - the civil rights movement of the 20th century: President Lyndon Johnson; Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., whose scandals almost cost Marshall the Supreme Court judgeship; Harry and Harriette Moore, the NAACP workers killed by the KKK; Justice J. Waties Waring, a racist lawyer from South Carolina, who, after being appointed to the federal court, became such a champion of civil rights that he was forced to flee the South; John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy; Senator Strom Thurmond, the renowned racist from South Carolina, who had a Black mistress and child; North Carolina senator Sam Ervin, who tried to use his Constitutional expertise to block Marshall's appointment; Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who stated that segregation was "the law of nature, the law of God"; Arkansas senator John McClellan, who, as a boy, after Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, wrote a prize-winning school essay proclaiming that Roosevelt had destroyed the integrity of the presidency; and so many others. 

This galvanizing book makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall's lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation. 

©2015 Wil Haygood (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Wil Haygood has brought us an elegant, fascinating and important tale, rendered with relentless originality and the author's superb gift of portraiture. Showdown reveals the essence of the great Thurgood Marshall, as well as the historical forces and often surprising backstage mechanics that enabled him to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice." (Michael Beschloss)

"[A]ccessible...moving...well-rounded. This is the definitive account of the life of a major American hero who deserves wider recognition." (Publishers Weekly)

"Dominic Hoffman offers an effective and engaging narration." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Showdown

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Haygood is master of the ticktock narrative

“Showdown” is not a standard biography. Haygood frames the book through the confirmation fight of Thurgood Marshall. The author provides flashbacks to provide more information of the life of Thurgood Marshall and the various Senators of the Justice Committee. The suspense build and build as Marshal faced off against a wolf pack of Southern Senators who were determined to block his nomination to the Supreme Court in July 1967. President Johnson let these white supremacist senators know he would just continue to nominate one black person after another in a showdown with the Dixiecrats.

Historically only a handful of Supreme Court nominees had faced much scrutiny from the Senate until the Marshall hearings in 1967, which changed all nominations since then. The Chairman of the Judicial Committee was an unabashed white supremacist, Senator James Eastland of Mississippi. Eastland’s father lead a lynching of a black man on his cotton plantation and his daughter was crowned Miss Confederacy in 1956. Eastland conducted the hearings with open hostility of Marshall. Marshall faced one after the other of the old Southern bulls of the Committee such as Strom Thurmond and Sam Ervin. Everett Dirksen, a Republican, led a coalition of Senators to successfully confirm Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

The book is well written and well researched. Haygood does a good job avoiding getting mired in legal jargon. If you are interested in Civil Rights or the Supreme Court this is a must read for you. Reading this book and listening to the current news I am struck that this country has not changed its racial prejudice, until now I had believed we had overcome our racial prejudice and fear of people that have different believes, but current events have proved me wrong. Dominic Hoffman did an excellent job narrating the book; his accents were good except for that of Robert and Edward Kennedy.

9 people found this helpful

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The Narrator Mumbles

This narrator had a tendency to mumble and poorly enunciated his words. The book was not well written.

If you want to listen / read a good book on Thurgood Marshall I would recommend Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic!

Extremely well written and researched book of a great and courageous man who played an oversized role in helping to bring equality to all Americans, with excellent narration. A+ all the way around!

2 people found this helpful

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Not what I expected

I was hoping to hear a lot more about Thurgood Marshall, instead, there were hours of content about other people, the slave revolt, and the History of Texas. Not that this isn’t good information, just not what I selected this book for.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to follow

This covered a very important part of US history and unfortunate culture. The side stories provided by the author were eye opening but often made me confused about where we were and who the side story was relating to.

1 person found this helpful

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Must read US history, legal history, civil rights

Very well done. The life and times of Thurgood Marshall could never be captured in a single book, but this author weaves the various contextual threads together rather seamlessly and really just brilliantly. Must read for any lawyer, civil rights advocate, or historian, if it were up to me they would use this book in high school history classes, it revolves around the hearing but it is so much more.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating

A great history lesson and behind the curtain view of Justice Marshall's Supreme Court nomination.

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fascinating if a bit scattered

This was the fascinating story of thurgood Marshalls nomination and confirmation to the supreme Court. As the title suggests, it was a fascinating story. it's well told and the writing isn't hard to follow. it's definitely a story worth reading. In fact, I'd go so hard to say I really liked this book.
My problem was that it jumps between different points in time, basically taking us out of the confirmation narrative and giving us bits of history about, and while I see how they connect to the bigger point being made, it happens so frequently it feels a little disjointed as if those stories don't quite fit into the overarching narrative. he's trying to tell the story in a way that sort of undermined the effectiveness of the book. Again, I really like the book, even if it wasnt perfect. but it was a perfect narration.

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Highly Recommend

This book is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and a true literary inspiration. The vocal performance was compelling and only supplemented to its potency as a great book!

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longer than it should have been.

liked it but it was longer than it should have been. spent a great deal of time talking about those around him.