Worse than the Devil Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror Revised Edition Dean A. Strang
An unjust trial, as patriotism, nativism, and fear swept the nation
In 1917 a bomb exploded in a Milwaukee police station, killing nine officers and a civilian. Days later, a trial began for eleven Italian immigrants who had already been in jail for months for an unrelated riot. The specter of the bombing, for which no one had been arrested, haunted the proceedings. Against the backdrop of World War I and amid a prevailing hatred and fear of radical immigrants and anarchists, the Italians had an unfair trial. Famed attorney Clarence Darrow led an appeal that gained freedom for most of the convicted, but his own methods were deeply suspect. The entire case left a dark, though largely forgotten, stain on American justice.
Dean A. Strang is a criminal defense lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin, and an adjunct professor at the law schools of the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University.
“A beautifully written account of Milwaukee a century ago, as well as a fair appraisal of the political passions of those times in the light of recent research. Strang approaches his subject with the skill of a sympathetic storyteller.” —Shepherd Express
“Strang paints a convincing and critical picture of the events in question, illuminating this moment in American history and justice. . . . Bound to be of interest to scholars and hobbyists alike.” —Publishers Weekly
“Dean A. Strang’s fascinating book excavates a conspiracy trial in Milwaukee back in 1917 that sheds crucial insights into the failings of our legal system and the hazards of succumbing to mass hysteria against immigrants and alleged terrorists. The book provides urgent lessons for us all. And along the way, the author provides vivid portraits of Clarence Darrow and Emma Goldman.” —Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive
“In engaging prose and with a terrific eye for detail, Dean A. Strang gives us the full story of a fascinating—and almost forgotten—moment of conflict from Milwaukee’s past. His book explores debates over civil liberties and terrorism, immigration and radicalism as they were lived and fought over a century ago.” —Beverly Gage, author of The Day Wall Street Exploded
“Vividly depicts [Clarence Darrow’s] strengths and foibles. The reader truly understands why Darrow’s involvement in the Milwaukee bombing defendants’ appeal arrived at a pivotal period.” —New Republic
“No one asked for this story. It simply begged to be told. . . . Strang’s impulse to tell a representative, rather than a unique, story has a chilling power he could not have anticipated.” —Partisan
“A riveting account of a miscarriage of justice relevant to our times, when fear of radicals of a different stripe may infect our system of justice.” —Booklist
“Strang’s painstaking account of the progress of the trial of the Bay View defendants reveals a shocking multiplicity of injustices. . . . Anyone with an interest in American history, political science, or law will derive substantial benefit and pleasure from reading Worse than the Devil.” —Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Book Reviews
“Celebrity is new to . . . attorney Dean Strang, who’s suddenly found himself in the limelight after appearing in the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer. While Strang may now be best known for defending Steven Avery, he has passions outside of the law. His first book, Worse than the Devil [was] about a 1917 trial in Milwaukee. . . . Strang talked to us about how human frailty is what makes the law interesting . . . and infuriating.” Read the interview with Dean Strang in Publishers Weekly.
“It’s impossible to read Worse than the Devil without hearing echoes of Steven Avery’s complicated case.” Read the review of Worse than the Devil in The New Republic.
Watch the interview with Dean Strang about Worse than the Devil on Milwaukee Public Television’s I Remember program: