The story of a lawyer's battle to win compensation from two of America's largest industrial giants. He fought on behalf of 21 families whose lives were wrecked by illness and death due to the alleged poisoning of their town well. This case became renowned in American legal history.The story of a lawyer's battle to win compensation from two of America's largest industrial giants. He fought on behalf of 21 families whose lives were wrecked by illness and death due to the alleged poisoning of their town well. This case became renowned in American legal history.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1994-08-01 This poetic novel beautifully captures the painful legacy of war and a community's struggle to deal with that pain. Shortly after WWII, fisherman Carl Heine is found dead in the waters off San Pedro, an island of ``damp souls'' off the coast of Washington State. Accused of his murder is fellow fisherman Kabuo Miyomoto, a member one of the many families of Japanese descent on the island. All of the island's inhabitants are gripped by the murder trial, but none more so than Ishmael Chambers, a local reporter who lost his arm in the Pacific theater, and Hutsue Imada, Kabuo's wife and Ishmael's former lover. First-novelist Guterson, a contributing editor at Harper's and author of the short-story collection The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, pays meticulous attention to the legal intricacies of Kabuo's trial. His greater purpose, however, and one that he achieves with skill and grace, is an investigation of racism, the nature of justice and the ``same human frailty passed from generation to generation.'' This is a luxurious book, whose finely detailed evocation of its small-town setting effectively draws the reader to consider its larger issues. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly, 1995-07-17 This tale of a somewhat quixotic quest by an idealistic young lawyer concerns his efforts to secure damages from two corporate giants, Beatrice Foods and W.R. Grace, for allegedly polluting the water in Woburn, Mass., a Boston suburb, with carcinogens. Jan Schlichtmann had hoped that a victory would send a message to the boardrooms of America and felt that the cluster of leukemia victims in Woburn (the disease had claimed the lives of at least six children) guaranteed his success. But he reckoned without certain developments: first, the case went to a federal court, a less sympathetic venue for damage suits than state courts; second, the trial judge appears to have been unsympathetic to his case; third, at least one of the defense witnesses lied; four, defense attorneys evidently failed to deliver all relevant documents to Schlichtmann's team. The case against Beatrice was thrown out, and the plaintiffs accepted a settlement of $8 million from Grace. Personally bankrupt, Schlichtmann considered himself a failure. Former New England Monthly staffer Harr has told the story expertly, although more exhaustively than most readers may wish. Author tour; movie rights to Disney. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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