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A Civil Action

About the Book

A Civil Action

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action. We hope they will enrich your understanding of this fascinating chronicle of an epic courtroom battle.

Two of the nation's largest corporations stand accused of causing the deaths of children. In Woburn, Massachusetts, several young children have been stricken with leukemia and one of the mothers, suspecting that their drinking water was polluted with industrial waste, initiates a lawsuit against the offending companies. It will be an unequal contest: two mighty corporations, commanding the finest legal representation money can buy, levelled against a few working-class families. Representing the bereaved parents is an unlikely Don Quixote: Jan Schlichtmann, a snazzily dressed, Porsche-driving young lawyer who has struck it big on several million-dollar medical malpractice cases. The flamboyant Schlichtmann is totally unprepared for what this particular case will demand of him. In the nine years' battle he comes close to losing everything-- money, career, reputation, and even his sanity. Allowed full access to the case and to the lives of Schlichtmann and his staff while they fought it, and given honest and extensive interviews by the lawyers of the opposing team, Jonathan Harr has been able to give the reader a riveting insider's look at not only the legal issues and maneuvers involved in an important lawsuit, but at the human drama and tragedy that can get lost all too easily among the legal details-- the grief and loss of the plaintiffs, the anxiety of the lawyers, and the bafflement of the jurors. A Civil Action reads like a fast-paced legal thriller and brilliantly captures the high drama of the courtroom.

A Civil Action
by Jonathan Harr

  • Publication Date: August 27, 1996
  • Paperback: 502 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0679772677
  • ISBN-13: 9780679772675