Cover image for Clarence Thomas : a biography
Clarence Thomas : a biography
Thomas, Andrew Peyton.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Encounter Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
661 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1150 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF8745.T48 T48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
KF8745.T48 T48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this unauthorized biography, the most authoritative ever written about the controversial Supreme Court Justice, Andrew Peyton Thomas (no relation) explores Clarence Thomas' remarkable rise from a childhood of poverty in segregated Georgia to the nation's highest court. In his attempt to understand what drives the elusive and sometimes enigmatic Justice, the author located and conducted the first-ever interview with Clarence Thomas' father, as well as interviews with his mother, sister, and other relatives and friends.

Author Notes

Andrew Peyton Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School, where he was a legal assistant for the Boston NAACP. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, National Review and many other publications. He lives with his wife, Ann, and their three children in Phoenix

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The tenth anniversary of Clarence Thomas' appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court has already produced one biography: John Greenya's Silent Justice: The Clarence Thomas Story [BKL S 1 01]. Like Greenya, Thomas was unable to convince his subject to agree to one or more interviews. Instead, he relies on archival research into Justice Thomas' early life and education and the progressively more demanding government positions he served in after law school, along with interviews with relatives, friends, coworkers, former law clerks, and fellow conservatives. Recommend this biography to readers who consider Justice Thomas a hero (or, like President Bush, one of the best current members of the Court). Author Thomas dishes dirt about Anita Hill (one charge seems to be a poor work ethic) to establish a context for her role in the Senate hearings considering Thomas' appointment. Because of the controversy surrounding his nomination, it may take a generation before we see a truly objective biography of Clarence Thomas. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thomas (no relation to his subject), a sympathetic conservative author (Crime and the Sacking of America), delivers a biography curiously at odds with itself. The first two chapters, covering several centuries of local and family history, follow Clarence Thomas's self-mythologizing strategy whereby he portrayed himself as a black Horatio Alger from the segregated South when he was undergoing scrutiny as a Supreme Court nominee. Though lacking rich detail, the account of the justice's early life is engaging. Justice Thomas's grandfather's grinding work-ethic response to racism sowed the seeds of deeply enduring conflicts that neither Thomas nor this biographer appear to have examined. At Yale Law School (one of several affirmative action boons Thomas both exploited and resented, as this volume affirms), he eschewed theoretical studies for commercial law. After clerking at a civil rights law firm, he unsuccessfully sought work elsewhere before becoming a diversity hire of Missouri Attorney General John Danforth. Reagan's need for black conservatives to reverse the civil rights agenda gained Thomas two successive plum assignments the last as head of the EEOC before Bush appointed him first to the D.C. Court of Appeals, then to the Supreme Court. His special, fast-track treatment and apparent lack of preparation for this post are made painfully evident here. The author acknowledges the justice's evident periodic dishonesty and deep self-pity, citing the "dark side" of Thomas's political abilities as "a disingenuousness that sometimes seeped into dishonesty." Anita Hill and every liberal in sight are dutifully trashed, and major substantive criticisms of Thomas are ignored. Though the author (a graduate of Harvard Law School who has written for the Weekly Standard and the National Review) offers exaggerated outbursts of praise (for a man who "[put] his head down and charg[ed] through life as an independent moral agent... a free man"), he portrays a spoiled, bitter, insincere man. Photos not seen by PW. (For another take on Thomas, see Silent Justice, by John Greenya, reviewed on p.82) (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Part 1 Iron Sharpens Iron
1 Two Plantations in Georgiap. 7
2 Furnaces of the Willp. 31
Part 2 The Roots of Rebellion
3 A Phoenix Rises in Pin Pointp. 51
4 The Strongest Man in the Worldp. 65
5 Black Spot on the White Horsep. 83
6 Dreams Deniedp. 95
Part 3 Heretic
7 Years of Ragep. 113
8 The Monkey on His Backp. 135
9 Apostle to the Rednecksp. 151
10 Money Isn't Everythingp. 169
11 The Coattails of St. Jackp. 177
Part 4 The Man
12 Call It Stormy Mondayp. 193
13 A New Sheriff in Townp. 211
14 Turkey Shootp. 227
15 Running for a Second Termp. 253
16 Thomas Becomes a Conservativep. 285
17 Cloistered, Againp. 315
Part 5 Accused
18 One of Usp. 341
19 Into the Quagmirep. 365
20 Soul Foodp. 387
21 Unraveledp. 407
22 The Empty Noosep. 425
23 Joy in the Morningp. 447
Part 6 Defender of the Framers
24 The Stillness of Wounded Pridep. 457
25 Homecomingp. 481
26 1787, a Wonderful Yearp. 499
27 Keeping the Faithp. 519
28 "I Am a Man, a Black Man, an American"p. 533
29 Life, Liberty, and the Open Roadp. 557
30 New Horizonsp. 583
Author's Notep. 593
Selected Bibliographyp. 597
Reference Notesp. 603
Indexp. 645