What We Are Reading Today: What Becomes a Legend Most by Philip Gefter

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Updated 26 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: What Becomes a Legend Most by Philip Gefter

This is the first definitive biography of Richard Avedon, a monumental photographer of the 20th century, from award-winning photography critic Philip Gefter.

“Balancing glamor with the gravitas of an artist’s genuine reach for worldy achievement — and not a little gossip — plus sixteen pages of photographs, What Becomes a Legend Most is an intimate window into Avedon’s fascinating world,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“Dramatic, visionary, and remarkable, it pays tribute to Avedon’s role in the history of photography and fashion — and his legacy as one of the most consequential artists of his time,” the review added.

In his acclaimed portraits, Richard Avedon captured the iconic figures of the twentieth century in his starkly bold, intimately minimal, and forensic visual style. 

Concurrently, his work for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue transformed the ideals of women’s fashion, femininity, and culture to become the defining look of an era. 

“As successful as Avedon became, he was plagued by doubts about his work not being taken seriously and tirelessly worked to make the critics look at his work as art,” said the review.

What We Are Reading Today: Privilege and Punishment by Matthew Clair

Updated 27 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Privilege and Punishment by Matthew Clair

The number of Americans arrested, brought to court, and incarcerated has skyrocketed in recent decades. Criminal defendants come from all races and economic walks of life, but they experience punishment in vastly different ways. Privilege and Punishment examines how racial and class inequalities are embedded in the attorney-client relationship, providing a devastating portrait of inequality and injustice within and beyond the criminal courts.

Matthew Clair conducted extensive fieldwork in the Boston court system, attending criminal hearings and interviewing defendants, lawyers, judges, police officers, and probation officers. In this eye-opening book, he uncovers how privilege and inequality play out in criminal court interactions.

When disadvantaged defendants try to learn their legal rights and advocate for themselves, lawyers and judges often silence, coerce, and punish them. Privileged defendants, who are more likely to trust their defense attorneys, delegate authority to their lawyers, defer to judges, and are rewarded for their compliance.

Clair shows how attempts to exercise legal rights often backfire on the poor and on working-class people of color, and how effective legal representation alone is no guarantee of justice.

Superbly written and powerfully argued, Privilege and Punishment draws needed attention to the injustices that are perpetuated by the attorney-client relationship in today’s criminal courts, and describes the reforms needed to correct them.