Well, as advertised "The Nine" is in fact exciting, even riveting and insightful, but what is not advertised is that the author's strong left wing bias is barely concealed. This is sad. The subject matter is of great importance, and the author obviously put a great deal of sweat into into its writing, but unfortunately, it was titled wrong. It would have better been titled "The Nine: A Leftist's View of the Supreme Court". If your leanings are left, you will love this book. If they are right, you will hate it. If, on the other hand you are apolitical as I am, and you read the book to learn more about this major institution of the american government system, you will be saddened and disappointed, bucause the schloarship cannot be trusted.
Overall this book has an adequate summary of the behind the scenes ongoings in the Court covering the Rehnquist to the Roberts period. Although I often wondered where the information was obtained - how the author had access to comments made during the Court's private conferences.
I take issue with Toobin's constant attack upon the jurists to the right. I would have enjoyed this book much more had the treatment of all of the Justices been handled with the same objectivity. The author clearly expressed this opinion that the jurists on the right are somehow intellectually inferior than the others. I found it quite insulting, inappropriate, and unnecessary. This should have been a neutral reporting of an important period of time of the Court, not an attempt to get even or to take a shot at the right.
High School Reading and English Teacher
The basic premise of this book is that Supreme Court justices' decisions are better understood as the result of personality and politics than of judicial philosophy. The book is a detailed explanation of how the dynamics of nine personalities, and the internal politics of assigning decisions and recruiting "opinions" to build a majority, drives the final outcome of decisions. The work is in the same mode as "The Brethren" by Woodward and Armstrong but deals with a very different time on the court.
The in-depth profiles of each justice are fascinating, detailed, and little gossipy. The author is most interesting when tracing how time on the court changes the justices themselves.
The profile of Scalia is interesting for its depth and respect, especially for a judge whose judicial philosophy the author clearly disagrees with. The profile of Thomas reads as shrill and one-sided. I don't actually know enough to judge the accuracy of the information but the tone is so disdainful, it made me skeptical.
The rest of the justices are addressed with reverent attention, and the author's assessment of their careers is supported by so much detailed information that you will be able to decide for yourself how much you agree.
Overall, the descriptions of the history and the central conflict at the center of each case provide a compelling view of the work of the court and how it ultimately gets done.
Bike commuter: I listen during my ride home. And while walking the dog. And cleaning the house...
I have followed the politics of the Supreme Court for years, and this book really fed my craving for inside info. A great listen!
most engaging reading of an audiobook I've ever had -- I really enjoy Don Leslie's appropriately dramatic narration, which is best when complementing dramatic plots and narratives such as Toobin's relatively creative nonfictional account of the Supreme Court
It is very scary to read how the Republican Christian Right-wing decided to conquer the Supreme Court - and succeeded. A less known - and quite dirty - part of American history is here brought to light. It is somewhat of a scary science fiction novel to read how ultra-conservative people can influence our daily life. But it is true. Apart from how that swing in majority in the Court was made possible, this is a very good analysis of the Court and how it works. Even the legal parts are well written and analyzed (says this legally trained reader.) Highly recommended!
I agree with others' reviews that Jeffrey Toobin doesn't conceal his bias against judges who base their legal opinions on a strict reading of the constitution. I listened for twenty minutes and had to stop. This is not biographical, but editorial. Shame on Toobin and the publishers for publicizing this book as anything but that. If I could get a refund, I would.
Our local library series finished the season with Mr. Toobin and the program was wonderfully entertaining (full of humor and history). I had started reading this book just before he came to speak and was eager to finish it as a result.
The narration is very appropriate. Cliche words are occasionally overused in the writing style. Regardless, any reader should learn much by reading this book.
The story not only describes the justices and the process of their appointments, but also various cases of significance. It is enlightening to know the thoughts of this group of people and how their decisions evolved.
This is well worth the tme and effort to read.
Although a long listen, this book provides historical and personality descriptions of the 9 justices up to John Roberts. The reader has a melodious and yet engaging voice which helps to show the interplay of the justices, their clerks and the government revealing how sometimes decisions are made. Clear patterns of judgement emerge as justices' tenure on the court matures. Excellent book to listen to in my opinion.
After just writing my Masters thesis on the worldview of the Rehnquist Court, I have to say that this book is not only accurate, but highly entertaining and depicts the true nature of the Supreme Court. The insight Toobin gains into the inner workings of the Court is amazing.