Darrow’s Nightmare

The Forgotten Story of America’s Most Famous Trial Lawyer

Darrow’s Nightmare is not a biography but rather the true story of America’s best-known lawyer, the woman he loved, and the worst two years of their life together (1911-13) when Clarence Darrow stood trial as a criminal defendant. But for the representation of Los Angeles attorney Earl Rogers, Darrow’s career might have ended in City of Angels. Learn more…

A fascinating portrait of Clarence Darrow as we’ve never seen him before – as a criminal defendant. In Darrow’s Nightmare, Nelson Johnson tells the riveting tale of America’s most famous lawyer as he fights for his life, marriage, career and reputation. I couldn’t put it down.

As was said of Clarence Darrow’s closing arguments when reduced to print, “more interesting than a novel.” Judge Johnson deftly makes use of trial transcripts to bring to life the worst two years of Darrow’s career by weaving two great stories: Darrow as criminal defendant, and the brilliant lawyer who defended him, Earl Rogers.

I thoroughly enjoyed Darrow’s Nightmare. I was unaware of this facet of Darrow’s life until reading this riveting portrayal. The players and background are set very well and the courtroom exchanges provide a vivid picture of trials in California at the beginning of the 20th Century, truly the ‘Wild, Wild West.’

This is an incredible book — a dramatic story told by a gifted story teller. “Darrow’s Nightmare” is as gripping as a novel. The characters involved in this trial are outstanding. I’ll never forget the image of Earl Rogers, Darrow’s extraordinary defense attorney, dressed in his dapper clothes examining questionable evidence with his lorgnette. Nelson Johnson has a wonderful knack of giving the reader the interesting details while keeping the focus on the larger story.

Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer by Nelson Johnson