Cal. Litig. 2021, Volume 34, Number 1

Man of Tomorrow The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown By Jim Newton

Reviewed by Marc Alexander

Marc Alexander is a mediator and Of Counsel with AlvaradoSmith APC. He publishes the blog California Mediation and Arbitration, and he co-contributes to the blog California Attorney’s fees.

The title of journalist Jim Newton’s fine new biography, Man of Tomorrow, scarcely mentioned in the book, cannot capture Jerry Brown in his fullness. As Newton himself points out, Brown’s thinking was strongly influenced by a rigorous Jesuit education, and Brown "walked in the paths of tradition." He strongly believed in limits to the role of government (and to government spending). Brown told William F. Buckley on Firing Line, "Freedom is totally impossible without limits, without structure." While Brown did not believe government was the solution to every problem, he believed government could play a positive role and make the lives of Californians better. Accepting the limits of government and accepting the active and positive role government can play may make Brown seem a man of contradictions in our politically polarized time. In fact, Brown’s ability to integrate both ideas enabled him to govern our unruly state with increasing success as he matured politically.

At times, Brown seems less a man of tomorrow than a man out of synch. About Brown in 1967, Newton writes: "Too young, too skeptical, too liberal to join up with Reagan’s team, too old, too straight and too Catholic to enjoy the counterculture, he was outside the poles staked out…. "

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