Judith Hicks Stiehm, "Janet Reno: A Life" (UP of Florida, 2023)


In this first full biography of former United States attorney general Janet Reno (1938–2016), Judith Hicks Stiehm describes the independent and unconventional life of a woman who grew up on a rural South Florida homestead and rose to occupy one of the top positions in the United States government, whose ethics and example served as inspiration for women in law and politics across the nation.     

In Janet Reno: A Life (UP of Florida, 2023), Stiehm incorporates personal details from her full and exclusive access to family papers and photos, as well as inside information from Reno’s own materials and interviews with over 40 of Reno’s personal and professional acquaintances. Stiehm begins by tracing Reno’s free-range childhood, her college years at Cornell and experience at Harvard Law School as one of 16 women in a class of over 500, the challenges she faced as a woman lawyer launching her career in 1960s Miami, and her 15 years as Miami-Dade state attorney.            

In 1993, Reno was appointed to serve in Washington as United States attorney general in the Clinton administration, the first woman to occupy the position in the history of the nation. Stiehm tells how Reno engaged with the East Coast elite as an outsider, seen by many as outspoken and eccentric—yet scrupulous, uncompromising, and immune to influence. Stiehm explores the reasons behind Reno’s decisions in cases she handled during her tenure, including the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas; Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation; the Oklahoma City bombing; and the Elián González controversy.            

Janet Reno’s life was an illustration to many that it is possible to hold high office while consistently speaking and acting on principle. This biography examines the guiding forces that shaped Reno’s character, the trails blazed by Reno in her professional roles, and the lasting influence of Reno on American politics and society to this day.

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Deidre Tyler

Deidre Tyler, PhD - Sociologist, Instructional Technologist.
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