How did a former chief lawyer for the United States transform into one of America's most notorious defenders of the despised? Defending the Public's Enemy is the first book to explore the enigmatic and perplexing life and legal career of U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
Over the last ten years, Lonnie T. Brown conducted extensive research and interviews to answer one question: how did Ramsey Clark go from admired government insider and leader of the Department of Justice, to staunch defender of some of America's most vilified enemies, including Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein?
A political gadfly, Clark played a role in a staggering array of seminal historical and political episodes. His life and work were enmeshed with some of the most notable people and events of the 1960s: Martin Luther King Jr., the Watts Riots, the Voting Rights Act, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Black Panthers, Muhammad Ali. In service of his country, Clark worked tirelessly, especially to secure the civil rights of black Americans, courageously resisting persistent, racially-tinged calls for more law and order by white politicians. Upon entering the private sector, the former insider became one of his government's staunchest critics and sidled up to a mystifying assortment of clients. Clark provided legal defense to internationally-despised figures, alleged terrorists, reputed Nazi war criminals, and brutal dictators.
Is Clark a man of character and integrity, committed to holding his government accountable to the ideals of fairness and justice, or is he a professional antagonist, anti-American and reflexively contrarian to all that our leaders promote? The provocative life chronicled in Defending the Public's Enemy personifies the contradictions at the heart of American political history, and our ambivalent relationship with dissenters and marginalized groups, as well as those who embody a fiercely independent revolutionary spirit.