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.
I listen on my commute home.
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
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.
My husband and I both enjoyed this book.
Thought I knew a lot but learned much about the personalities, politics and workings of the Supreme Court.
THis book is well constructed, it is suspenseful and gives enough personal insight in addition to the bare bones of legal issues needed to understand the major areas of dispute in US supreme court rulings over the last fifty years.
THe narrator is strong, the writing draws you in, but ultimately the status of the court is both depressing and disheartening. I saw Justice Scalia swagger across the screen on SIXTY MINUTES last week and almost wept at his arrogant unwillingness to admit he is a political hack with no shame or sense of honor.Leslie Stahl licked his feet. I felt lost in a circus tent. I was glad I had read the book so I could put Scalia's lies into context but I certainly don't feel more hopeful that things will change.
Well researched and written for the non-lawyer in you, but still covers every legal point of view.
I never got bored during the listen, but must say that I did get "bogged down" a few times. Still it is well worth pushing through.