By the one-time federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, an important overview of the way our justice system works, and why the rule of law is essential to our society. Using case histories, personal experiences and his own inviting writing and teaching style, Preet Bharara shows the thought process we need to best achieve truth and justice in our daily lives and within our society.
Preet Bharara writes himself into the diamond circle of Clarence Darrow. There have been other good books by lawyers that have enriched our understanding of the law and its application by practitioners of the bar. But Darrow set the gold standard ... an un-put-down-able primer from the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), written with immense skill and engaging style. He’s tough, smart, and funny. He does not condescend to readers without legal credentials ... He tells riveting stories from real-life experience and attributes his near-perfect record as a federal prosecutor to the hard work and preparation that his team invested in achieving convictions in cases such as the Madoff/JPMorgan Chase Ponzi scheme and a scam defrauding a fund for Holocaust survivors ... Preet Bharara writes that you will not find God or grace in legal concepts or in formal notions of criminal justice. But be assured that you’ll find God and grace in this fascinating book.
But Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law isn’t a memoir, exactly; had it been an uncomplicated reminiscence, I would have enjoyed it much more ... [The book's goal] is all fine in theory — but only sometimes works in practice. Bharara seems to be addressing would-be prosecutors on some pages... and a wider audience on others... and he doesn’t seem to settle into a common register until the second half of the book ... Is all of this book filled with Polonius gunk? No. Most chapters delight or provoke in some way, if you mentally redact the fortune-cookie sentences (of which there are mercifully fewer in the second half) ... [The book] is filled with sobering stories about error and — in the more beautiful, memorable cases — ingenuity, determination, redemption.
Listeners of Bharara’s podcast will be familiar with the book’s tone: thoughtful, sincere, and not above a coy jab or a showman’s wisecrack ... The book is structured as a series of meditations on the different stages of a criminal investigation: 'Inquiry,' 'Accusation,' 'Judgment' and 'Punishment'—a conceit that could easily read as affected but that Bharara manages to pull off ... Like Comey, Bharara feels compelled to defend an aspect of his record that may be less than appealing to federal law enforcement’s new fans to the left of center ... Here, perhaps unavoidably, Bharara comes off as defensive ... Doing Justice does its best to communicate what Bharara sees as the fundamental good faith of many law enforcement officials. The real interest and innovation of the book, though, is in Bharara’s effort to offer that model of engagement with the world as a political theory for his fellow citizens. In a cynical time, there’s something to be said for that kind of sincerity.