Based on exclusive interviews with the justices themselves, The Nine tells the story of the Court through personalities, from Anthony Kennedy's overwhelming sense of self-importance to Clarence Thomas' well-tended grievances against his critics to David Souter's odd 19th-century lifestyle. There is also, for the first time, the full behind-the-scenes story of Bush v. Gore and Sandra Day O'Connor's fateful breach with George W. Bush, the president she helped place in office.
The Nine is the book best-selling author Jeffrey Toobin was born to write. A CNN senior legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer, no one is more superbly qualified to profile the nine justices.
©2007 Jeffrey Toobin; (P)2007 Books on Tape
"A major achievement, lucid and probing." (Bob Woodward)
"Absorbing....[Toobin's] savvy account puts the supposedly cloistered Court right in the thick of American life." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a remarkable, riveting book. So great are Toobin's narrative skills that both the justices and their inner world are brought vividly to life." (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
This book is about the Supreme Court Justices - not the law. I found this to be a fascinating look into the individual nature of the justices and how their background, personalities, public and public opinion influence their decisions. The book covers many of the more well known cases regarding afirmative action, abortion, death penalty, gay rights, women's right etc. However, the focus is not on the cases but rather how the decisions were made. Insight into why the Chief Justice is so important, how 'liberals' judges like David Souter got nominated by a republican president. Why did the justices intervene in the Gore-Bush election? Which justice cried after the decision? What did the justices think of the Clarence Thomas confirmaion hearings? How did the presidents actually go about choosing a justice? How in the world did Harrier Myers get nominated? These any more topics are covered. if you have any interest in the Supreme Court, you will find this an interesting read (listent).
Although the book does have its interesting moments -- some factual, some gossipy -- it more reminded me of my law school days (now more than 25 years ago) of listening to a student "briefing a case" to the professor and class. That was uninteresting. What's more, the book makes an argument that a pervasive right wing conspiracy is afoot in the the selection of Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and other cases of perceived judicial activism. That could be, but I felt the arguments as presented were either weak, unsupported, or did not add up. I thought Woodward's "The Brethren" was far better. This book was quite underwhelming.
The Nine is written as a travelogue of the recent to not so recent history of this esteemed panel. It has many interesting facts and anecdotes concerning an 'inside baseball' perspective of the court. The average listener to this type of book however is probably more interested in a more academic approach to the subject. It is not that this title is not enjoyable, much to the contrary, I was quite engaged all the way through...It's just that when I got to the end I wasn't sure that I understood the court any better than I had before listening. What I was hoping for was how the cases were presented to the Justices and how they interpreted the Constitution in their findings. Fortunately Audible has actual Supreme Court hearings downloadable for free...This I found more informative, if a bit less entertaining.
If you are interested in politics and the court, this book is pretty darn interesting. Toobin is quite liberal, and writes from that point of view. As long as you can accept that, he writes a good tale, and you learn a lot about what drives the justices, albeit from his very left-leaning view of piety.
My biggest complaint is the author's omissions of important parts of arguments, for example, the whole Bush v Gore election. He totally glosses over the strident incompetence of the Florida Supreme Court. Only if you were a news junky at the time would you have the proper context to understand the whole story. He leaves out many details that don't comport with his liberal views; but, I guess we all do that some. Overall, very good book.
mostly nonfiction listener
In terms of pure craftsmanship and bang or the buck in learning about the U.S. it is hard to beat Toobin's "The Nine". Simply put, Toobin is a great writer. He infuses drama and erudition into his narrative of the Supreme Court under Rhenquist (and then Roberts). We learn that the Court was really the O'Connor Court, as for two decades she held the center ground and therefore the deciding vote. We see the Court at it's best, as it tacked to moderation on social and commercial issues, and at its worst as it short-circuited the Florida recount in 2008 and installed Bush to the Presidency.
The Supreme Court is the least well understood of the 3 branches of the Federal Government, but often the most important. Toobin takes us behind the closed doors of the Court, giving the reader a sense of how opinions are crafted and how the personalities of the Justices (and their relationships to each other) determines the law of the land. "The Nine" should become a standard text for undergraduate departments of Government and Political Science.
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!
Jeffrey Toobin sure flat knows how to reveal what the court is really like. In his fine book, "The Nine," the listener comes to know about each high court judge warts and all. Sharp character sketches and descriptions of how the judges work individually and together are great.
Toobin, it seems, has set out to help us understand how the court works from the perspective of those a part of it. He succeeds wonderfully in this task. His portraits of the individual judges extends over a 15 year period allowing for him to introduce key decisions made over that period.
This book is well written and read. It tells how the individual judges work and interact rather than telling how the court works, per se. Therefore, the book will be of broader interest. Listen to it for what it is and you'll not be disappointed.
Author, Consultant, Speaker
A very educational look at how the appointments to the judicial bench influence the laws of the country and how the judges make their decisions. Disturbing in how removed from reality some are. A fascinating look at their culture. I enjoyed this book.
A fascinating look into the inner workings of the Supreme Court. Lots of interesting tidbits about the court, its justices, and how their personalities and politics influence their decisions. Toobin focuses mainly on the justices serving in the 1980's through the appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice. For casual watchers of the court you will find lots to like - equal parts analysis of some of the more important decisions over the past 30 years, biography, and insider anecdotes - all told within the context of shifting political trends. I found it all very entertaining and informative but those interested in the history of the court or in depth legal analysis of landmark rulings should look elsewhere.
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.
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