Vijay Sharma’s Summer Book List, Legal and otherwise…

Hello all,

Some time ago I wrote up a movie list that I thought some of you may enjoy. Since summer is nearly here, I decided to help out  with a summer reading list. I’m inviting comments for an all-legal list I’ll make later.



Sharma’s Review

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow

For the aspiring law student:

Scott Turow’s wrote about his experiences as a first-year student, a “One L,” at Harvard Law 35 years ago. While the book may have aged, it is still recommended reading for anyone entering law school. The book succeeds in usually providing a clear picture of the eccentric life of a 1L. Though the vast majority of the book still holds true, a seasoned 2L may look at the experiences with a reaction bordering on “Oh, quit complaining, you’ll be fine!” That said, Turow succeeds in conveying the emotional rollercoaster of law school.

Courtroom 302: A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse

For the criminal defense attorney:

Steve Bogira was a reporter who was granted unprecedented access to the inner-workings of the Chicago Felony Criminal Court at 2650 S. California, called “26th and Cal,” or simply “26th Street.” The book is benefits from the fresh perspective of a non-attorney who is watching, sometimes in horror or awe, as the overburdened and cranky wheels of justice churns out criminal defendants. While understandably ignoring some legal minutiae, the book admirably accomplishes the task of describing the ordered chaos of one of the world’s larger court buildings. The book starts in the county jail with new offenders and ends with a heated trial in Judge Daniel Locallo’s Courtroom. He succeeds in honestly describing the very real players as flawed humans trying to do right from everyone up to and including the ever-genial, and now retired, Judge Locallo himself.

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

For the police officer:

As a fouth-generation police officer, Conlon details the life of a  NYPD patrolman. The book is almost a series of anecdotes that illustrate the complex and interweaving nature of an officer’s personal and professional life with, alternatively brutal or glorious, honesty. As a practitioner, Conlon is pragmatic in his use of history or emotion to explain why certain people act in a certain way. But the heart and soul of the book lays in the examination of brotherhood, loyalty, commitment, honor, and intense pride in wearing the uniform from his first day through the September 11th attacks.

Leadership by Rudy Giuliani

For those interested in management, policing, or criminal prosecutions:

Regardless of a reader’s personal political leanings, former Mayor Giuliani’s memoir is a pragmatic view of a lifetime of skillful management with a commitment to excellence in action to get results. The book begins with the attack on New York on September 11th before backtracking to provide the overall context of the complex city politics and Giuliani’s role in trying to clean up New York City and his efforts to spearhead initiatives to pull New York City away from corrupting influences that ranged from the peep shows infesting Times Square to prosecution of organized crime boss John Gotti. The book shows the evolution of determined prosecutor to city hero and we get the fascinating ride.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

For those with an interest in management, trial law, or general badassery:

This treatise was written by a man who lived 2,600 years ago and is still recommended reading in several business schools and trial law programs across the country. Today, the reader should see the lessons as metaphorical, rather than literal, teachings regarding when to act and when not to act or the correct time to attack a stronger adversary. The lessons try to cultivate habits favoring thoughtfulness over greed and wisdom over recklessness while always focusing on the end goal.

Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business by Jay Conrad Levinson

For marketers or small business operators:

Conrad’s book is nearly thirty years old, but survives due to his updated editions. While the techniques may become outdated over time, the spirit of the book still remains. The spirit is simply “If you’re small, don’t be afraid to be innovative.” Focusing on finding and keeping clients while stressing grassroots advertising, Conrad’s ideas are practical, simple, and effective.

The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler by John Lukacs

For the historians or those who just like to see Nazi’s get beaten down:

After crushing most legitimate resistance from the Atlantic ocean to the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany controlled almost the entire European continent. The tiny British island across the English Channel stared into the abyss for 83 days. In that time they fought back and held off one the most powerful army’s in history. Lukacs frames the story as a chronological struggle between two ancient cultures, two determined countries and the two relentless men that led them. As Lukacs writes, Adolf Hitler used his “monstrous” personal gifts while Winston Chuchill fired up the British to protect their island and stand as a granite bastion against tyranny. The story has been told before, but never as a thrilling chess match of wills. While William Shirer’s mammoth treatise, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is more comprehensive in its scope, it is written with the personality of the passive observer. Lukacs constantly brings the story back to the personalities and real, but flawed, men thrust into the eye of history.

Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters by Victoria Schmidt

For the creative writer:

Dr. Schmidt has written several books published by Writer’s Digest. 45 Master Characters surpasses this book in its breadth and Book in a Month summarizes this book’s main points, Story Structure Architect is effective in exploring common narrative tropes from start to finish. This road map allows the burgeoning author to innovate over the worn out path or to turn it on its head to deconstruct a whole idea into something new. Through common sense advice, Dr. Schmidt lays out a groundwork for situations and characters whose adaptability is only limited by the readers imagination.

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