OUSD > Urban Dreams > Language Arts > Extended Literature > Grade 12 > Harr


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In America, when somebody does you wrong, you take 'em to court. W. R. Grace and Beatrice Foods had been dumping a cancer-causing industrial solvent into the water table of Woburn, Massachusetts, for years; in 1981, the families of eight leukemia victims sued. However, A Civil Action demonstrates powerfully that--even with the families' hotshot lawyers and the evidence on their side--justice is elusive, particularly when it involves malfeasance by megacorporations. Much of the legal infighting can cause the eyes to glaze. But the story is saved by great characters: the flawed, flamboyant Jan Schlichtmann and his group of bulldogs for the prosecution; Jerome Facher, the enigmatic lawyer for Beatrice, who proves to be more than a match; John J. Riley, the duplicitous, porcine tannery owner; and a host of others. It's impossible not to feel the drama of this methodical book, impossible not to grieve for the parents who lost children, and impossible not to share Schlichtmann's desperation as he runs out of money. A Civil Action reads like one long advertisement for a few well-placed Molotov cocktails. (But that wouldn't make for a very long book, now would it?)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679772677/ (Amazon.com)

Websites about A Civil Action:

Author Biography:

Jonathan Harr was born in 1948 in Wisconsin. His father was a Foreign Service officer whose assignments took the family to France, Germany, and Israel, as well as Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. While in high school, Harr served as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Harr began studying at the College of William and Mary, but left in 1968 to serve as a VISTA volunteer in Appalachia. He tried college again a few years later at Marshall University in West Virginia, but dropped out before graduating. Following college, Harr worked as a journalist for an alternative weekly, The Advocate, located in New Haven, Connecticut. A few years later he studied comparative economics at Brandeis. More...

http://www.library.brandeis.edu/about/nsf/civil_action/harrpg1.html (Brandeis University Libraries)

Websites about Jonathan Harr:

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