Lansing author wins National "IPPY" Award

Former Judge Lawrence M. Glazer's book "Wounded Warrior", a biography of Michigan's embattled Governor John Swainson, was awarded the 2011 "IPPY" Gold Medal for biography by Independent Publisher magazine. The award was announced Monday May 23 at Book Expo America (BEA) held in New York City.

The list of the nation's Governors and former Governors who have faced political corruption charges is a long one ...Edwin Edwards, Spiro T. Agnew, Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, Guy Hunt Don Siegelman, John Swainson...

You can strike the former Governor of Michigan, John Swainson, from that list thanks to the efforts of his biographer Lawrence Glazer.

Author and former Michigan Circuit Court Judge Lawrence M. Glazer remembered an observation Michigan's embattled and bruised Governor John Swainson made about his life and took it to heart. Glazer writes that Swainson, who was convicted of perjury in an alleged bribery scheme, always said "let history be the judge".

And now in his book, "Wounded Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson", the former judge turned author uncovers new evidence that Swainson was in fact innocent of both bribery and perjury charges. Swainson was convicted of perjury in 1975.

"He was done in by a ruthless prosecutor and his own naiveté," Glazer said.

The Independent Publisher selected winners in more than 50 categories from more than 3,000 entries submitted by independent publishers, university presses and authors. The book which reads like a cold case investigation was published by the Michigan State University Press in East Lansing Michigan and was named a 2011 Michigan Notable Book.

Prior to becoming a judge, Glazer was an assistant Michigan Attorney General and chief legal advisor to Governor James Blanchard. As an assistant attorney general, his interest in Swainson's case was first piqued when he prosecuted in an unrelated case one of the informants in the bribery case. Some 25 years later Glazer who grew up in metro Detroit would take up Swainson's cause.

In awarding the book the highest honor for biography, the Independent Publisher magazine said, "This year we saw spectacular work in so many categories-so much passion-so much creativity-so much truth. The main thing I've learned about independent publishers and authors over the years is that they tell the truth," said Jim Barnes, Award Director.

He said, "We judged passionately truthful memoirs and biographies, soulfully truthful self- help books and brutally honest critiques of our social and political systems."

Glazer said "I was looking for the truth and I had doubts about the trial and how it was conducted. I wanted to see if someone missed something."

Swainson was one of many wounded World War II veterans who had a meteoric political career following the war. A double amputee, Swainson served in the Michigan State Senate, as Governor for two years (1960-62) and then was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1970. He resigned from the Court when he was convicted for perjury in the 1975 trial. He was the youngest Governor to have been elected in the 20th century and has been one of handful of individuals to have served in all three branches of government.

Glazer spent four years researching Swainson's life and trial, interviewing more than 45 people and reviewing 10,000 pages of documents, including the 2000 page trial transcript.

The former judge admits that Swainson didn't help himself by hiring an attorney with no criminal trial experience.

"My research also discovered three witnesses who would have helped prove his case but weren't called to testify."

In his book, Glazer writes of a man whose accomplishments - especially in the area of civil rights - were overshadowed by his conviction.

"The time Swainson spent in a rehabilitation hospital with black and Japanese-American soldiers following his injuries deeply influenced his later life both politically and personally.

He worked diligently to end discrimination in state government and appointed the first African American to the Michigan Supreme Court," Glazer said

Glazer said he hopes his book will help history judge Swainson in a different light.

"He truly was a wounded warrior."

Published: Mon, Jun 6, 2011

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