Publisher: AK Press
Released: July 12, 2016
For half a century, criminal defense lawyer Leonard Weinglass defended a who’s who of the twentieth-century left in some of America’s most spectacular trials. “The typical call I get is one that starts by saying, ‘You’re the fifth attorney we’ve called,’” he once said. “Then I get interested.” Those calls came from the likes of the SDS, the Chicago Seven, Daniel Ellsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, among many others.
In a field dominated by egomaniacs, Weinglass was known for his humility, his common touch, his ability to work collectively, his kindness, and his attention to detail. This long-overdue biography captures the vibrant life and inspiring legacy of an American iconoclast.
Praise for Len, A Lawyer in History
“For decades Seth Tobocman has been working within the comics vernacular to create a unique language, and with Len he’s at the top of his game…brilliantly applying himself not only with pencil and ink on paper, but as an active participant in the same political struggles that Len Weinglass valiantly dedicated his life to solving.”
—Peter Kuper, author of Ruins
“Tobocman has conjoined past and present to create singular, beautiful, volatile images of struggle.… At the center of this explosion—as example and harbinger, but most of all as an incendiary intimate portrait—stands Len himself. Our coalitions will forever be enriched by his presence, and by the demands his legacy bequeaths.”
—AK Thompson, author of Black Bloc, White Riot
“I met Len Weinglass in 1964.… He was learned, funny, and the best damned trial lawyer I ever saw in a courtroom.… The chapters on Newark, Chicago, and the Pentagon Papers case will help a new generation understand the substance behind all the blurry labels about the time.”
—Tom Hayden, author of The Port Huron Statement
“The book is dramatic in its reach and speechless in its words. It’s not just about Len, but who we were as people during his journey. Remarkable.”
—Stanley L. Cohen, attorney and political activist
“Len said: ‘I would classify myself as radical American. I want to spend my time defending people who have committed their time to progressive social change.’ This exemplifies how, along with Michael Ratner, William Kunstler, and other US lawyers around the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, he was an incredibly important role model for radical human rights lawyers in Europe such as myself.”
—Wolfgang Kaleck, Secretary General, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
A Lawyer in History is less than 200 pages, and all but a few are filled with illustrations. Tobocman didn’t just rely on his considerable artistic skills to tell the story; he spoke with those who knew Weinglass well and studied the cases and political times of his heroic legal practice. As a result, Tobocman’s highly expressive drawings and writing successfully capture the essence of who Weinglass was as a man—why he became so radical, what motivated him to take on the cases he did, and what the political movements he represented were all about.
—Jim Lafferty, NLG-Los Angeles President Emeritus
"Placing the word ‘in’ amidst the subtitle foreshadows both the strength and beauty of this book. A Lawyer in History expands this book on Weinglass as it places the individual within the collective. Yes, the book is a celebration of Len in the struggle, but more importantly the book portrays his work and hope with other people for a more just world… Most important in Len, A Lawyer in History is Weinglass’s commitment to the collective struggle."
—Alan Wieder, Counterfire
"The strengths of this book are several. Michal Steven Smith's introduction provides needed background for the aesthetic narrative of the pages that follow. Tobocam's concluding notes not only identify principal sources but allow the reader to fill in the gaps in the preceding narrative. The artwork is stark and engaging—not ornamental, but black, white, and gray—and allows text and pictures to develop a strong storyline. The essential narrative is a stirring one, hypothesizing how an individual such as Weinglass might have effected change in the post–World War II and post–Cold War eras."
—Timothy Dean Draper, Journal for the Study of Radicalism
Paul Buhle is the editor of a dozen comic art books along with many scholarly works, including the authorized biography of C.L.R. James.
Michael Steven Smith is executor of Leonard Weinglass’s estate and co-editor of Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.
Seth Tobocman is an author/illustrator and one of the founding editors of World War 3 Illustrated.