Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice (Hardcover)

Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice By David S. Tatel Cover Image

Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice (Hardcover)


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The "moving, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir" (Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy) by one of America’s most accomplished public servants and legal thinkers—who spent years denying and working around his blindness, before finally embracing it as an essential part of his identity.

David Tatel has served nearly 30 years on America’s second highest court, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where many of our most crucial cases are resolved—or teed up for the Supreme Court. He has championed equal justice for his entire adult life; decided landmark environmental and voting cases; and embodied the ideal of what a great judge should be. Yet he has been blind for the past 50 of his 80-plus years.

Initially, he depended upon aides to read texts to him, and more recently, a suite of hi-tech solutions has allowed him to listen to reams of documents at high speeds. At first, he tried to hide his deteriorating vision, and for years, he denied that it had any impact on his career. Only recently, partly thanks to his first-ever guide dog, Vixen, has he come to fully accept his blindness and the role it's played in his personal and professional lives. His story of fighting for justice over many decades, with and without eyesight, is an inspiration to us all.

"This memoir of a judge of the country’s second highest court, who has been without sight for decades, goes down like a cool drink on a hot day." —Scott Turow, #1 bestselling author of Suspect

“Deeply moving and packed with wisdom.” —Frank Bruni, New York Times
Judge David Tatel served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1994 to 2023. Prior to that, his three-decade career as a civil rights lawyer included private and government positions, and focused heavily on equal educational opportunity and access to justice. He served as Director of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and then Director of the National Committee. He was the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare during the Carter Administration. When he returned to private practice in 1979, Judge Tatel joined Hogan & Hartson, where he founded and headed the firm’s education practice until his appointment to the D.C. Circuit. Judge Tatel also co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Technology and Law. Judge Tatel and his wife, Edie, have four children and eight grandchildren. They live in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Product Details ISBN: 9780316542029
ISBN-10: 0316542024
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: June 11th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English
Vision is charming, wise, and completely engaging. This memoir of a judge of the country’s second highest court, who has been without sight for decades, goes down like a cool drink on a hot day. With quiet humanity and candor, Judge Tatel discusses his upbringing, his career in the law, his deep disapproval of today’s highly politicized Supreme Court, and the passions that dominate his life today, for his wife, his family—and his guide dog.”—Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Suspect

“A moving, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir from a thought leader and federal judge who has vision for the things that matter most.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

“The one-word title of this compelling and deeply personal memoir is perfect: his half-century of blindness notwithstanding, Judge David Tatel’s vision of justice has never dimmed. Here he charts a rich and varied life of unwavering commitment, in the face of a formidable obstacle, to use law to achieve a more just and equal society.”
 —Linda Greenhouse, author of Justice on the Brink

“I have had the privilege to know David Tatel as a great judge, and to admire (profoundly) his ability to cope with the disability of blindness, but until reading this memoir I had no idea of the extraordinary life he has led—starting as a boy doing physics experiments in the High Andes in the year of Sputnik, right up to his disillusionment with the more conservative Supreme Court of recent years. One does not have to agree with his politics to recognize a man of Vision, and grace.”—Michael W. McConnell, Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

“David Tatel’s Vision blew my mind. From his youth to the present, Judge Tatel’s personal life and career reflect a truly extraordinary degree of courage and commitment to overcome the profound challenges he has faced. As a son, a husband, a father, a skier, a student, a lawyer, a dog lover, a high-level government official, and one of the most influential jurists in our nation, he has courageously dedicated his unprecedented career in the law to the pursuit of decency, honor, justice and equality. Read this book, and you will have a whole new vision of what it means to be a truly remarkable person.”
 —Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Sex and the Constitution and co-editor of Roe v. Dobbs

“David Tatel has written the book that his friends and admirers always hoped he would write but expected he would NOT. One that deals candidly with his ‘vision’—his blindness, and his years of treating it as an asterisk, all while becoming one of the most prominent and thoughtful judges in the country. Vision is both novelistic and introspective in its treatment of his lack of sight—from his love affair with his wife and children, to his ‘cane lessons’ and, late in life, his love affair with the new member of his family, his guide dog, Vixen. Along the way, it is also a book about the law, the art of judging, and the current Supreme Court. And its fascinating!”
 —Nina Totenberg, author of Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships

“The deepest lesson of David Tatel’s journey is that we can’t avoid our challenges but only survive by meeting them. Today, his brilliantly told story isn’t just important for our personal lives but also for our lives as citizens who are called anew to meet the challenges facing our country and to protect and defend our ideal of justice for all.”—Timothy Shriver, PhD, Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics

“This fascinating memoir is both an inside look at the judicial system and an inspiring tale of a man who moved beyond his physical limits to excel at his vocation."—Candace Smith, Booklist

“A candid memoir...Tatel reveals high-court insights from private conversations with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg...As he recounts his legal journey and slowly coming to terms with his blindness, Tatel’s tone is poignant but positive. He turns despairing when he writes of the Supreme Court...Rarely do US jurists, even in retirement, write so bluntly.”—Joan Biskupic, CNN

“Tatel’s memoir is both inspiring and affecting.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Inspiring...A stirring reflection on an extraordinary life…Throughout, Tatel’s humility and tenacity shine.”—Publishers Weekly

“Deeply moving and packed with wisdom.”—Frank Bruni, New York Times

“A candid and moving memoir...Judge Tatel was for years reluctant to talk about his blindness. And judicial tact, he said, required him to suppress his increasing discomfort with the direction of the Supreme Court. In Vision, Judge Tatel weaves those two themes together.”—Adam Liptak, New York Times