A tiny, ebullient Jew who started as America's leading liberal and ended as its most famous judicial conservative. A Klansman who became an absolutist advocate of free speech and civil rights. A backcountry lawyer who started off trying cases about cows and went on to conduct the most important international trial ever. A self-invented, tall-tale Westerner who narrowly missed the presidency but expanded individual freedom beyond what anyone before had dreamed.
Four more different men could hardly be imagined. Yet they had certain things in common. Each was a self-made man who came from humble beginnings on the edge of poverty. Each had driving ambition and a will to succeed. Each was, in his own way, a genius. They began as close allies and friends of FDR, but the quest to shape a new Constitution led them to competition and sometimes outright warfare.
Scorpions tells the story of these four great justices: their relationship with Roosevelt, with each other, and with the turbulent world of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. It also serves as a history of the modern Constitution itself.
©2010 Noah Feldman (P)2010 Hachette Audio
Not being a lawyer, I was a little hesitant about buying a book of legal history, but was intrigued from the very first sentence. Feldman writes with grace and clarity about the court that FDR built and four important justices who worked it. He describes the legal concepts and issues of the era with subtlety, yet in terms easy to grasp, and adds the juicy personal and political detail we need to understand where justices Frankfuter, Black, Jackson and Douglas came from and why they acted as they did.
I liked that he explained the different approaches to constitutional law, the crucial components of a number of important cases of the era, and included the political vectors affecting the court. This is a rich history and compelling "read".
He does a wonderful job as a narrator, too. I wish every non-fiction audiobook were read with such ease, simplicity, and complete lack of hype. Congratulations Noah Feldman!
A very informative book, with a very good narrator. I learned much about the four Justices in the book and it left me wanting to learn more about them and the time period. The behind the scenes politics of the Supreme Court then and the Justices' interactions with FDR and the New Deal were unique in history.
This book made a very recent road trip fly by. I enjoy a great diversity of books. This book has to be my top five. Its a perspective of the great depression, war time and post war time which I found surprisingly fascinating. I would't hesitate to recommend this to a friend.
A highly enjoyable and memorable account featuring four of the greatest Supreme Court Justices in our history and some of the landmark cases in which they were called upon to decide. In his exceptionally well written and well narrated book, Noah Feldman paints amazing true to life portraits including the judicial philosophies and striking personalities of these complicated men and their very contentious relationships with each other.
This is a fascinating journey through the history of 20th century American jurisprudence. Listeners will learn how FDR met Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Robert Jackson and William O. Douglas in the course of his political career. Those four men set the Court on a path that changed the law -- before they even became justices. Great history lessons here. Very approachable; law degree not required.
If you're a con law nerd, this is for you.
The story of how America's longest-serving president changed the Supreme Court, the country and the world with his appointments. This provides great context for understanding the rise of liberalism, judicial activism and, conversely, judicial restraint on the Supreme Court.
It's easy to forget that Justices are actual people, who evolve. But this book injects the humanity of these men, and their contemporaries, to provide a broader context that is often missing when one simply studies the opinions of the Court, as some continuous institution.
This peek into history reads like a novel and the narrator (not Noah Feldman, but Cotter Smith) does an outstanding job of drawing you into the personalities and issues of the period. While I have not quite finished this audio book, I am enjoying it immensely and congratulate Professor Feldman on his excellent work.
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