Sensing Injustice: A Lawyer’s Life in the Battle for Change (FREE eBook!)

REVIEWS, 29 Mar 2021

Michael E. Tigar | Monthly Review - TRANSCEND Media Service

Forthcoming in April 2021

By the time he was 26, Michael Tigar was a legend in legal circles well before he would take on some of the highest-profile cases of his generation. In his first U.S. Supreme Court case—at the age of 28—Tigar won a unanimous victory that freed thousands of Vietnam War resisters from prison. Tigar also led the legal team that secured a judgment against the Pinochet regime for the 1976 murders of Pinochet opponent Orlando Letelier and his colleague Ronni Moffitt in a Washington, DC car bombing. He then worked with the lawyers who prosecuted Pinochet for torture and genocide. A relentless fighter of injustice—not only as a human rights lawyer, but also as a teacher, scholar, journalist, playwright, and comrade—Tigar has been counsel to Angela Davis, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), the Chicago Eight, and leaders of the Black Panther Party, to name only a few. It is past time that Michael Tigar wrote his memoir.

Sensing Injustice: A Lawyer’s Life in the Battle for Change is a vibrant literary and legal feat. In it, Tigar weaves powerful legal analysis and wry observation through the story of his remarkable life. The result is a compelling narrative that blends law, history, and progressive politics. This is essential reading for lawyers, for law students, for anyone who aspires to bend the law toward change.


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No one since Clarence Darrow has been in the middle of more of his generation’s important legal battles than Mike Tigar. His memoir … is must reading for those who wonder if law can still be exciting, heroic and moral. Tigar proves it is, with wit, high style and great stories.

—John Keker, partner, Keker & Van Nest; formerly Irangate special prosecutor

Many go to law school to pursue justice, but Michael Tigar has spent his career doing that, and this entertaining, insightful book tells of his many battles to use the law to make society better. He is a terrific storyteller and one learns a great deal about the United States and the progressive movement and the legal system over the last half century from this book. But most of all, one gets the strong sense of how one person can truly make a difference.

—Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Few lives have been as compelling and consequential as that of Michael Tigar. He is a walking encyclopedia of a half century of law, social movements, and history and a master storyteller. Tigar is a hero who has saved lives and is a voice for justice and peace whose life story is mesmerizing.

—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

There can have been few attorneys since Clarence Darrow whose tally of causes célèbres can match that of Michael Tigar, sailor, teacher, scholar and warrior. In this reflective memoir they take their places in a long and productive life spent exploring and patrolling the contested terrain between past and present, between practice and principle, and between injustice and justice.

—Stephen Sedley (Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley, former Lord Justice of Appeal for England and Wales)

Michael Tigar tells the story of his lifelong struggle against injustice with wit, clarity, and astounding specificity, drawing on his profound understanding and love of history, literature, and music. I once taught a course on ‘Law and Social Change.’ If i were teaching today i would assign Bleak House by Charles Dickens and Tigar’s Sensing Injustice.

—Jerry Cohen, retired General Counsel at United Farm Workers (UFW)

A must-read page turner by the Clarence Darrow of his generation. Tigar was ‘in the courtroom where it happened’ for blockbuster cases and describes his battles for justice with his signature wit and passion.

—Patricia Lee Refo, President, American Bar Association


Michael E. Tigar has worked for over fifty years with movements for social change as a human rights lawyer, law professor, and writer. He has taught at law schools in the United States, France, South Africa, and Japan, and is Emeritus Professor at Duke Law School and American University Washington College of Law. He has authored or coauthored fourteen books, three plays, and scores of articles and essays. His book, Law and the Rise of Capitalism, first published by Monthly Review Press, has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, and Chinese.

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