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November 10, 2012

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Eric Engle

I met Mr. Whitman, who was indeed very kind, and stayed overnight there once. It is very beautiful, and has a vast amount of books, some of which are rare many of which are obscure. I am saddened at his death, he was a very good person. It did not have many law books but history, literature were there in abundance; mostly in English. I have heard a rumor there are two other Shakespeare & Co. bookstores, at least one of which is in the U.S. I do not know if it is true. Mr. Whitman was rumoured to be related to Walt Whitman, though that is immediately followed by the wag "not really": I do not know whether that tale or the wag is true but they cannot both be true. Incidently, Hemingway was right: "Paris... we were very poor, and very happy." I leave you then with a double literary pun, I think he would approve:
Nemo est Insula.

Peter Reich

On my first trip to Paris in 1975 I went to Shakespeare & Co., met Mr. Whitman, and asked him if he had any books on law (I was then an undergrad contemplating law school). He recommended, and I bought Robert Lefcourt's Law Against the People (1971), which I read and reread several times. The paperback contained essays like Kenneth Cloke's "The Economic Basis of Law and State," David Rockwell's "The Education of the Capitalist Lawyer: The Law School," William Kuntstler's "Open Resistance: In Defense of the Movement," and Lefcourt's own "Lawyers for the Poor Can't Win." It kept me sane through years of questioning whether one could practice law and still be a good person. Now I occupy the conveniently ambiguous role of law professor, but I still look back from time to time at the title page, which has the store's pictorial stamp (a circle with the bard's face in the middle), the penciled price of 20 francs, and memories of a more innocent time.

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