Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In this stunning new biography, award-winning author Wil Haygood surpasses the emotional impact of his inspiring best seller The Butler to detail the life and career of one of the most transformative legal minds of the past one hundred years.

Using the framework of the dramatic, contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative and moving look at Marshall’s life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped—or desperately tried to stop—the civil rights movement of the twentieth century: President Lyndon Johnson; Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., whose scandals almost cost Marshall the Supreme Court judgeship; Harry and Harriette Moore, the Florida NAACP workers killed by the KKK; Justice J. Waties Waring, a racist lawyer from South Carolina, who, after being appointed to the federal court, became such a champion of civil rights that he was forced to flee the South; John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy; Senator Strom Thurmond, the renowned racist from South Carolina, who had a secret black mistress and child; North Carolina senator Sam Ervin, who tried to use his Constitutional expertise to block Marshall’s appointment; Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who stated that segregation was “the law of nature, the law of God”; Arkansas senator John McClellan, who, as a boy, after Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, wrote a prize-winning school essay proclaiming that Roosevelt had destroyed the integrity of the presidency; and so many others.

This galvanizing book makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall’s lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation.
 “If the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the civil rights movement’s brightest star, Thurgood Marshall was its unsung hero.  But to his contemporaries—admirers, allies and enemies alike—Marshall’s string of legal victories, highlighted by Brown vs. Board of Education, placed him at the epicenter of this crusade for justice. . . .  Showdown’ is not a standard biography. . . . Instead, Haygood, who has written biographies of Sugar Ray Robinson and Sammy Davis, Jr., frames the book through this confirmation fight.  And what a fight it was. . . . A richly textured account that brings to life the political and cultural stakes involved.” 
        —Los Angeles Times
"Wil Haygood’s gripping new Showdown, which examines the context behind Marshall’s 1967 nomination and confirmation, provides valuable reminders about the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and the truly mind-boggling horrors that precipitated nation-changing events.”
        —Dallas Morning News
“The opening chapters of Wil Haygood’s engaging ‘Showdown’ make clear that even if Thurgood Marshall had not made it into history books as the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States, he would have deserved a place in American history as one of the best, most effective lawyers of his generation. . . . Haygood tells this story with great energy and at times with humor and style.”
        —The Washington Post
“Haygood is a master of the ticktock narrative. He’s equally adept at contextualizing the ‘showdown’ that gives his book its title, explaining how some of Marshall’s detractors hoped that resentment linked to recent urban riots would help them derail his nomination. . . . His prose, meanwhile, is a consistent pleasure. Rather than opting for rhetorical fireworks, he ends what might be the book’s most important chapter with a simple yet deeply resonant image: ‘A short while later, word reached the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court that he would have to report to be measured for his judicial robes.’”
        —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Even though I know that Marshall was confirmed and served on the Court for almost twenty-five years, I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what the outcome would be… Showdown is the best kind of narrative history. The story line is taut, the characters are complex, and the backdrop is finely drawn. As with all of Haygood’s books, Showdown has a somewhat breathless quality to it that made me sorry I had to turn out the light and go to bed. In this propitiously timed book, Haygood has reminded us how important Marshall was, not only to the African American community, but to the entire country. Every one of us lives in a world shaped by this extraordinary man.”
        —Columbus Free Press
“The individual fragments Haygood assembles are often fascinating and sometimes horrifying — glimpses of the dark side of American history that make Marshall’s appointment, indeed his entire career, shine all the brighter. . . . After he left the presidency, Johnson informed the justice that he wanted to write a book about the nomination battle. He died too soon, and now Haygood has ably filled the gap.” 
        —The Boston Globe

“Haygood rehabilitates Marshall with Showdown… Haygood’s decision to focus on this turning point in Marshall’s life proves ingenious.”
The Atlantic
“Haygood, the author of previous biographies of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson, is passionate and, at times, eloquent… Haygood has done a great service by reminding us of an extraordinary man at an extraordinary moment.”
The New York Times
“Wil Haygood’s vivid account of the confrontation between Thurgood Marshall and Southern segregationist oligarchs in the U.S. Senate resurrects a civil rights drama often overlooked in histories of the storm of events during the 1960’s” —Curtis Wilkie, author of Dixie: A personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South
“Wil Haygood’s rich account of Thurgood Marshall’s rough road up through racism and onto the Supreme Court is an inspiring story of America’s moral strength, powerfully told with exquisite attention to evocative detail. Everyone who reads this history, with all its ugliness and virtue, will be on the way to enlightened citizenship.” —David K. Shipler, author of A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America   
“The choice of Thurgood Marshall was an event that changed the history of America and this book proves that the changes were all positive.” — President Jimmy Carter
“An intensely readable, fully explored account of what the New York Times called an "ordeal by committee," an important hinge in American history.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Wil Haygood has brought us an elegant, fascinating and important tale, rendered with relentless originality and the author’s superb gift of portraiture.  SHOWDOWN reveals the essence of the great Thurgood Marshall, as well as the historical forces and often surprising backstage mechanics that enabled him to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.”   — Michael Beschloss 
“[A]ccessible . . . moving . . . well-rounded. This is the definitive account of the life of a major American hero who deserves wider recognition.” —Publisher's Weekly (starred)