Gideon's Trumpet

Lewis, Anthony

Book - 1989
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Gideon's Trumpet
Clarence Earl Gideon, a semi-literate drifter, is arrested for breaking into a pool room and for petty theft. When he asks the court to appoint a lawyer for his defense because he cannot afford one, his request is denied. Acting as his own lawyer, Gideon is convicted and sent to jail. While in prison, he begins a hand-written campaign directed to the U.S. Supreme Court, contending that every defendant is entitled to legal representation. The Court agrees to hear Gideon's case, and, in a landmark decision, rules in his favor.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1989, c1964
Edition: Vintage Books ed
ISBN: 9780679723127
Branch Call Number: 345.73056 L673g 1989
Characteristics: 277 p. ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

Clarence Earl Gideon, a semi-literate drifter, is arrested for breaking into a pool hall and stealing $55. Unable to afford a lawyer he tries and fails to defend himself. Using his own sense of justice and the prison library, he changes what it means to get a fair trail.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 26, 2013
  • Vincent T Lombardo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I practiced law for 30 years and, through the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association, mentored students at Cleveland-Marshall for almost 20 years. Whenever a student successfully completed the first year of law school, I would give her "Gideon's Trumpet". In clear and lucid prose that anyone could understand, Anthony Lewis explained the arcane procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court and abstract legal concepts such as "selective incorporation". But most importantly, he told an inspiring story of how a barely literate drifter persuaded the Supreme Court to change its mind and extend the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel to the States -- with the assistance, of course, of appointed appellate counsel, Abe Fortas, and his colleagues. The book exemplifies how creative and noble the legal profession can be.

I once wrote to him about giving his book to my mentees, and he sent me a brief but gracious reply. Years later, I met him before a lecture he gave at Case, and he autographed my copies of "Gideon's Trumpet" and "Make No Law". He was a true gentleman as well as an excellent writer. It is fitting, if not, ironic, that Lewis died while we were commemorating the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at MCL