Who was Thurman Arnold? A flamboyant character from Laramie, Wyoming, who first achieved national prominence in the late 1930s when, at that time a professor at the Yale Law School, he published his brilliant and provocative The Folklore of Capitalism. A man equally at home in the world of action and the world of ideas, who went on to become, successively, Franklin D. Roosevelt's man in charge of trust-busting, a judge on a federal circuit court of appeal and senior partner in a firm of corporation lawyers in Washington but did not cease stirring people up by public speeches, articles in learned journals and letters to newspapers. A true and lifelong son of the West who was once aptly described as "a cross between Voltaire and the cowboy, with the cowboy predominating" (p. vix). And how did Professor Gressley, a respected historian of the West, come to collect and edit these many-faceted letters? Because he was able to induce Arnold, the boy from Laramie, to give his papers to the Archives of the University of Wyoming, which has its seat at Laramie. Feeling that "it is in his letters that the real Thurman Arnold comes closest to being revealed" (p. xi), he himself undertook the task of selecting from over 17,000 of them those that to him seemed the most revealing. To them he added a long and perspective-giving Introduction that sheds a good deal of light on this fascinating man.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Susan Sherwin, “Voltaire and the Cowboy: The Letters of Thurman Arnold”, Book Review of Voltaire and the Cowboy: The Letters of Thurman Arnold by Gene M. Gressley, ed, (1979) 5:3 DLJ 810.