Toobin has good material. The research is thorough. However, as in his OJ book, his biases and attempts at analysis undermine the book rather than make it more interesting. I say that even though I share his political and social leanings. His thinking is that of an outsider who misunderstands the perceptions and motivations of those he watches. As someone who spent many years practicing law, my reaction while reading/listening to the book was often that he just didn't "get it." Instead he "gets it" about 50% of the time. It's the writing of someone who is well educated in the law but not in the behavior of the humans in the courts and in cases. Nonetheless, the facts he describes are fascinating, and it's easy enough to separate out and ignore his speculation and opinion.
I think Toobin could write a very good book if he made a conscious effort to write a "neutral" book, with the assistance of an editor that insisted on that principle. He understands the mechanics of the law and our legal system. His writing, in other books, and elsewhere, is clear and easy to read. He's a good reporter who simply does not have good insight about the cases and institutions he covers. The next time he gets an advance to tackle some interesting case or legal institution, he should stick to the facts.
Jeffrey Toobin gives the reader an incredibly detailed and intimate look into the lives, transition, and evolution of the Supreme Court and its Justices. Toobin breaks down decisions and conflict to the very bone, teasing the reader with dialogue between Supreme Court Justices that happens right in their chambers. All the way up to the end, the reader is given mass amounts of information as the story of the Supreme Court, the Nine, and Justice progresses up to a close present.
Toobin's description of the case Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) is incredible. Toobin shows one of the Supreme Court's greatest flaws through this case by ripping away the Justices' aura of being untouchable and shows their true human nature as they make a grave mistake by taking the case. This case has truly shaped how the Supreme Court throughout the 2000's progressed.
Don Leslie, the narrator, is a magnificent voice that brings energy to a very information heavy read.
Understanding the Supreme Court decisions of the last 20 years and the personalities within the court.
Avid general reader with a fondness for British and Irish Writers and world history.
This is not fiction, by any stretch of the imagination. It is straight-forward fact and observation. While a fair and through assessment, it also offers some relevant character study, which is cleverly done and sets the scenes for appointment to this elite body. It has some elements of what sounds like a novel, but after some research on my part, it is appears that there is no exaggeration. The humanity, humor, strongly held beliefs of the Chief Justices and how they influence other members of the court is particularly interesting. Above all, while this review is probably dull, the book is not! It is a learning experience, even for the already learned and should be required reading for anyone interested in the law.
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.
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.