The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education is widely considered the milestone victory of the civil rights movement, but it was only the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign, brilliantly and relentlessly waged. Root and Branch is the epic story of the two fiercely dedicated lawyers who led that fight, from county courthouses to the marble halls of the Supreme Court. Charles Hamilton Houston was the pioneer: After becoming the first African American on the Harvard Law Review, he became dean of the law school at all-black Howard University. Stern and uncompromising, Houston soon earned the nickname "Old Ironshoes." But he transformed a third-rate night school into a West Point for civil rights advocacy. One of Houston's students was a brash young man from Baltimore named Thurgood Marshall. Soon after Marshall graduated from Howard, Houston and his former student took charge of the NAACP's legal office. Houston and Marshall made an unlikely duo, but together they faced down angry southern mobs, negotiated with presidents and senators, and convinced even the most racist judges and juries that the Constitution demanded equal justice under the law for all Americans.