Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  William Barnhart  

Pen Name: Bill Barnhart

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1946 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Illinois Connection

Barnhart lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Bill Barnhart is a former Financial markets columnist for the ''Chicago Tribune''. He is currently a freelance journalist.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Kerner: The Conflict of Intangible Rights
ISBN: 0252025040

University of Illinois Press. 1999

This first biography of Otto Kerner traces the heritage of a major figure in Illinois politics and explains his precipitous descent from public hero to public enemy. As a Cook County judge, Kerner reformed Illinois adoption procedure as a two-term Democratic governor he promoted economic development, education, mental health services, and equal access to jobs and housing as a federal appeals court judge he bucked the law-and-order tide and defended the rights of the accused. Kerner achieved national fame as chair of the National Commission of Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission), which remains a milestone in America's struggle for racial harmony.An eloquent prophet of the grave consequences of racism in America's cities, Kerner articulated the commission's principal finding that 'our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white - separate and unequal'. Kerner's achievements, however, were eclipsed by his conviction on federal charges of mail fraud, bribery, perjury, and income tax evasion tied to his dealings in stock of an Illinois racetrack operator.Arguing that Kerner's incarceration related less to his misdeeds than to the zeal of federal investigators in attacking corruption in Illinois, Bill Barnhart and Gene Schlickman reveal how the prosecution of the popular ex-governor deepened the penetration of the federal government into state and local politics and coarsened public attitudes toward public service. This broad-based study sets Kerner's life against a background of pivotal events and issues in American politics over six decades. An absorbing biography of a prominent and arguably tragic public figure, "Kerner" presents a cautionary tale on the strengths and weaknesses of the American political character and the capriciousness of political acclaim and denigration.

John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life
ISBN: 0875804195

Northern Illinois University Press. 2010

During Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s recent confirmation hearings, the idea of “biography” played a high-profile role in the debate. How much does a person’s experience affect his or her judicial opinions? Should personal history be a key consideration when determining qualifications to sit on the highest court in the land? In this impeccably researched book, journalist Bill Barnhart and retired lawyer and former legislator Gene Schlickman paint a detailed portrait of Justice John Paul Stevens’s remarkable life and tenure on the Court. Through vivid family history and a careful look at his work on the bench, Barnhart and Schlickman offer the first biography of the second longest serving Supreme Court justice of the modern era—one who has proudly earned the title of the Court’s most prolific dissenter.
To provide a nuanced and multifaceted look at the justice, Barnhart and Schlickman interviewed Stevens and an extraordinary number of Stevens’s friends and family members, former clerks, current colleagues, politicians, and court watchers. They spoke with such public figures as former President Ford, former Ford chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Interviews with Stevens’s children and one of his brothers provide personal insights into the man behind the robe. Tales of his childhood, of growing up in an affluent family in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and of the family business, including The Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton and Towers), create a rich portrait of the independent man and judge. Intimate anecdotes from Stevens’s former law clerks reveal the lighter side of some of the most serious work in the country.
Barnhart and Schlickman also give careful consideration to Stevens’s career. They trace his early years as a Chicago lawyer, his appointment to the federal appeals bench in Chicago, and his ultimate nomination to the Supreme Court by Republican President Ford. They examine his best-known opinions, including his emotional dissents in Texas v. Johnson and Bush v. Gore. They trace his growth as a molder of Court decisions. In an era of an increasingly politicized judiciary, the story of Stevens’s life, as a lawyer who joined the bench with no political or ideological baggage, is an urgent reminder of the importance of judicial impartiality and the need to cultivate it. This vibrant biography will be of interest to those fascinated by the inner workings of the Supreme Court as well as those who simply want to learn more about one of Chicago’s favorite sons.


Society of Midland Authors' Biography Award for ''John Paul Stevens

Speaking Engagements

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