A Perverse Brilliance

CHUTZPAH by Alan M. Dershowitz

Little, Brown; 378 pages; $22.95

When Naftuli Ringel arrived in the U.S. in 1907, the best available job was shohet -- ritual slaughterer. But the immigrant was too sensitive for throat cutting, and he chose to become a peddler. Assimilation works wonders in America; 84 years later, his grandson has developed an unerring instinct for the jugular vein.

The author, perhaps best known for his defense of Claus von Bulow, was a central character in the film Reversal of Fortune. Ron Silver accurately portrayed him as an amalgam of clenched hair and perverse brilliance. Those eager...

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