Hon Lawrence M. Glazer and Hon. William C. Whitbeck featured at Michigan Notable Book Tour


By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

Every year since 1991, The Library of Michigan announces its list of the year's Michigan Notable Books - 20 exceptional books about Michigan people, places and events.

This year's list included two books written by Michigan Jurists, Hon. William C. Whitbeck and Hon. Lawrence M. Glazer, featured as part of the Notable Books Tour held on each of Thomas M. Cooley's campuses. Both authors were at the Lansing Campus on May 18th.

Judge Whitbeck's book, "To Account for Murder," is a political thriller set in post-World War II Michigan and is based on a real case. Judge Glazer's political biography, "Wounded Warrior, The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson," chronicles the investigation of the charges of bribery and perjury brought against Swainson. He was acquitted on the charges of bribery but convicted of perjury.

"It is pure coincidence that Judge Glazer's story of John Swainson, a true story, and my story, which is fictional, intertwine around a location, Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, MI," said Judge Whitbeck, opening the discussion. "It happens that my father came to that hospital to rehabilitate after WWII as does Charlie Cahill the main character of my book, also injured in the War and as does John Swainson."

Whitbeck went on to describe some of the actual events upon which his book was based, saying that the story he created is "fiction, about what could have happened. The themes of the book are loss--Charlie lost his left arm in the War, his honor and his belief in the law as an instrument of justice. It is also about redemption, betrayal, loyalty, honesty, and corruption. My wife thinks it is a love story, about what you would or wouldn't do for love."

Judge Glazer took up writing after he retired from the bench. "I found my legal education and judicial experience helpful in historical research," he said. My judicial experience exposed me to a lot of people who aren't telling the truth. That comes in handy when you read someone's version that doesn't quite add up."

Glazer told how John Swainson lost both his legs during WWII and spent a lot of time at Percy Jones hospital where he met people he had never met before. "He met second generation American Japanese whose parents were interned during the war and African American soldier who told him of the discrimination he faced. These experiences had a profound affect on Swainson--he thought it was wrong."

Glazer described Swainson's rise in political office, serving on the Michigan Supreme Court and his subsequent fall into alcoholism when he was convicted of perjury. Swainson lost his law license. Eventually he reached bottom, went into treatment and "never drank alcohol again." His license to practice law was returned. Later at the dedication of his portrait at the Michigan Supreme Court, he was asked about his career. His comment was "I will let history be the judge of my career."

When asked how he came up with the language of the times, Whitbeck said he went to Michigan Libraries and read the newspapers, which gave him the tone. Glazer was able to interview those who remembered Swainson.

Both authors admitted that writing is hard work.

"It's lonely," Whitbeck said. "It is all you. Sometimes you get into the book and the characters start speaking and the story goes where they're taking it. I can hear their voices."

"The moment I finished the book," Glazer said. "I can't remember any time in my life that I felt more euphoric. I don't know if I will write another."

Asked how long it took to write the books, Whitbeck worked on his for 10 years; Glazer for five. "You don't do this for money, Glazer said. Following their remarks, they took time to sign copies of their books.

Each year, the Michigan Notable Books list features 20 books published during the previous calendar year that are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region or are written by a native or resident of Michigan. Selections include nonfiction and fiction and typically have a wide appeal and cover an array of topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.

Michigan Notable Books is a statewide program that began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, geared to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places and things that make Michigan special. In that regard the annual program successfully highlights Michigan books and gives readers insight into what it means to make your home in Michigan and proves some of the greatest stories are indeed found in our own backyards.

This year's selections include: a photo history of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival; Chrysler's creation of the turbine car; the National Book Award winner for fiction; inspiring immigration stories, poetry and essays that celebrate working men and women and the adventures of the Michigan Polar Bear unit in World War I.

This year's Michigan Notable Books Selection Committee includes representatives from the Library of Michigan, Cooley Law School, Grand Rapids Public Library, Lansing City Pulse, contributor to the Detroit Free Press, State Historic Preservation Office, Michigan Center for the Book and Schuler Books & Music.

Sponsors of the Notable Book Tour are Library of Michigan, Michigan Department of Education, Library of Michigan Foundation, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, ProQuest, Michigan Humanities Council, Auto-Owners Insurance and Michigan Center for the Book. Media sponsors include MittenLit .com, City Pulse, WKAR, Dome Magazine, Queue advertising and Gennara Photography.

Published: Thu, May 26, 2011


  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »