Inquiring Minds: Emily Bazelon

September 15, 2012


Inquiring Minds asks people to choose a book, article, film, radio story, or other media piece that changed the way they think about law and how it works in society. TLOTL

by Emily Bazelon

Common Ground, by J. Anthony Lukas, is the book that taught me how deep reporting and storytelling can bring complex legal dramas to life. Lukas famously spent seven years researching his saga of three Boston families affected by that bussing a court ordered in the 1970s to desegregate the city’s schools. The book takes on America’s biggest themes—race, justice, education—with intimate portrayals of the families, against the backdrop of deep knowledge of Boston politics, legal process, and the social fabric of the time. It’s a classic that helped inspire a whole genre of non-fiction that includes Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family. Lukas forewent piety and easy answers, but he also never let his readers off the hook of thinking about how the country, and all of us, can strive to be better and fairer. I’ve just finished writing my first book. Working on it made me marvel at Lukas’ accomplishment, and envy it, all the more.
Emily Bazelon is senior editor for the online magazine Slate, and a senior research fellow at Yale Law School. Her book, Sticks and Stones: The Problem of Bullying and How to Solve it, will be published in 2013