Peter S. Canellos is an award-winning writer and former Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe and Executive Editor of Politico. He is the editor of the New York Times bestseller, Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy.
The Great Dissenter is a magnificent biography of the righteous legal trailblazer John Marshall Harlan. Drawing upon a wealth of archival and published sources, deep-diving into the American horror-show of systemic racism, Canellos showcases Harlan as the rare Supreme Court Justice fighting for a more equitable economic system and civil rights for all people. Highly recommended! - Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University and New York Times bestselling author of Cronkite and American Moonshot What a spectacular achievement! Canellos has single handedly resurrected the memory of a largely forgotten American hero. Far ahead of his time, Justice Harlan denounced corporate power and passionately defended the rights of labor, immigrants and African Americans. On the Supreme Court he was a bold and lonely dissenter, but as this book shows, history vindicates him and awards him a place of high honor in the pantheon of American freedom fighters. - Stephen Kinzer, bestselling author of The Brothers and The True Flag Peter Canellos has vividly brought to life an absolutely fascinating story that I'm embarrassed I didn't know: A man raised in a slave-owning family who became one of the greatest champions of civil rights in the history of the Supreme Court, his lone-dissenter opinions cited decades after his death. John Marshall Harlan needs to be added to our pantheon of American heroes. - Adam Hochschild, bestselling author of King Leopold's Ghost and Bury the Chains John Marshall Harlan is one of the most fascinating and important figures of modern America, and this book does him justice. Carefully researched, and rewarding even informed readers with rich insight into Harlan's life and work, The Great Dissenter is a must-read, both for students of the Supreme Court, and for those concerned about the past, present, and future of racial equality in the United States. - Gabriel J. Chin, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law, University of California, Davis Peter Canellos is a brilliant researcher and writer who takes us on an enlightening tour through history made new in retrospect. His focus on Justice John Harlan's African-American half-brother Robert Harlan, a former slave whose storied career, financial success, and political and race activism were truly remarkable for the day, adds significance and complexity to his storytelling. Both Harlan men taunted and challenged the governmental powers that be, demanding that America tilt toward realizing its best self. This work is a tour de force and every individual interested in the history of our country's political and societal steps, both forward and back, should consider it must reading. - Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of A Slave in the White House and The Original Black Elite Canellos succeeds in showing us how central Justice Harlan's roots- from his Kentucky background to his half-black brother, Robert Harlan- were to shaping many of his views on controversial social issues and landmark civil rights cases in American history. - Nikki Taylor, Chair of the Department of History, Howard University, and author of Frontiers of Freedom and America's First Black Socialist The Great Dissenter is a superb achievement. Based on exhaustive research and well written, this study fully explains the forces that shaped a slaveholding Kentucky Unionist, a forward-looking justice, and a great man. - James C. Klotter, The State Historian of Kentucky, and author of Henry Clay and Kentucky Canellos's tale of the parallel lives of Justice Harlan and his mixed-race brother, Robert Harlan, delve into the complexities of American life in post-Civil War America and make a significant contribution to the history of one of the greatest Justices of the Supreme Court and Robert Harlan, an unsung hero of African American History. - C. Ellen Connally, Judge (Retired); Former Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Akron College of Law, and member of the Board of Trustees of the Ohio History Connection.