Dr. John Matzko Publishes “Best Men of the Bar”

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (July 10, 2019) – Bob Jones University history professor Dr. John Matzko recently completed Best Men of the Bar: The Early Years of the American Bar Association, 1878-1928, a scholarly monograph that treats the earliest years of the American Bar Association, today one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with nearly 400,000 members. Matzko’s book was released in July 2019 by Talbot Publishing, a publisher specializing in legal history.

In the introduction, legal historian and Columbia Law School professor Dr. Kellen Funk (BJU 2007 graduate) argues that the arguments advanced in the book put it “right at home in contemporary historiography of America’s legal profession.”

Senior law scholars have also praised the work. Robert W. Gordon of Stanford Law School called it “perceptive and judicious—and sometimes delightfully sardonic.” Michael Hoeflich of the University of Kansas School of Law wrote that it contained “rich tales that every lawyer, law student, and would-be lawyer should read and savor.” Herbert A. Johnson, Emeritus Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law, said it was “a ‘must read’ for all who seek understanding of this sparsely studied but critically important transitional era in American legal and constitutional history.” William E. Butler, Dickinson Law, Pennsylvania State University, called it “penetrating and gracefully written” and “likely to be the definitive account for some time to come.”

A native of New Jersey, John Matzko earned a BA in history from BJU (1968), an MA from the University of Cincinnati (1972), and a PhD from the University of Virginia (1984). In 2001, he published Reconstructing Fort Union (University of Nebraska Press).  Matzko is a former chair of the Division of History, Government, and Social Science, and he has served as prelaw advisor at BJU since 1978.  He has taught courses on ancient Rome, historiography, and American legal history; and he currently teaches Historical Research & Writing, a course in which BJU history majors write their senior projects.