First

Sandra Day O'Connor
Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
Length: 16 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (338 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller • The intimate, inspiring, and authoritative biography of Sandra Day O’Connor, America’s first female Supreme Court justice, drawing on exclusive interviews and first-time access to Justice O’Connor’s archives.

"She’s a hero for our time, and this is the biography for our time." (Walter Isaacson)

Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR and The Washington Post

She was born in 1930 in El Paso and grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona. At a time when women were expected to be homemakers, she set her sights on Stanford University. When she graduated near the top of her law school class in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O’Connor’s story is that of a woman who repeatedly shattered glass ceilings - doing so with a blend of grace, wisdom, humor, understatement, and cowgirl toughness.

She became the first ever female majority leader of a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, she stood up to corrupt lawyers and humanized the law. When she arrived at the US Supreme Court, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, she began a quarter-century tenure on the Court, hearing cases that ultimately shaped American law. Diagnosed with cancer at 58 and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s, O’Connor endured every difficulty with grit and poise.

Women and men who want to be leaders and be first in their own lives - who want to learn when to walk away and when to stand their ground - will be inspired by O’Connor’s example. This is a remarkably vivid and personal portrait of a woman who loved her family, who believed in serving her country, and who, when she became the most powerful woman in America, built a bridge forward for all women.

Praise for First:

"Cinematic...poignant...illuminating and eminently readable...First gives us a real sense of Sandra Day O’Connor the human being.... Thomas gives O’Connor the credit she deserves." (The Washington Post

"[A] fascinating and revelatory biography...a richly detailed picture of [O’Connor’s] personal and professional life...Evan Thomas’s book is not just a biography of a remarkable woman, but an elegy for a worldview that, in law as well as politics, has disappeared from the nation’s main stages." (The New York Times Book Review)

©2019 Evan Thomas (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"She rose to fame as the first female Supreme Court justice, but during her twenty-four years on the bench she became even more: the most powerful justice of our era. With practical instincts and sharp intellect, she crafted sensible compromises on affirmative action, abortion, and other contentious issues. She embodies the virtues we sorely lack today: decency, honesty, balance, and a nobility worn lightly. With amazing access to her journals and papers, Evan Thomas has written a brilliant and riveting book that captures her principles and personality. She’s a hero for our time, and this is the biography for our time." (Walter Isaacson, number one New York Times best-selling author of Leonardo Da Vinci)

"An unvarnished and psychologically intuitive look at the nation's first female Supreme Court justice...Thomas breaks new ground with First...unlike every other volume written about O'Connor." (NPR)

"A great storyteller has found his greatest subject in trailblazer Sandra Day O’Connor. Evan Thomas has written one of the most insightful and thoroughly captivating biographies I have ever read: A clear and compelling illumination of Sandra Day O’Connor’s unique voice and place in American history is told through her remarkable life’s journey from a rancher’s daughter to the first woman appointed to the highest court in the land." (Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times)

What listeners say about First

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Enthralling

This book was well written and truly fascinating. I’m thankful to have listened and I’m glad to know more about the incredibly life of O’Connor. Truly inspirational

3 people found this helpful

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Remarkable woman, well served in this book.

I am a female attorney with strong liberal views. This book about SOC satisfied my curiosity about America's first female Justice of the SCOTUS and never offended my left leanings. In fact, it impressed me with its confirmation that justices with great personal integrity, rather than rigid ideology, generally decide cases with a liberal bent rather than a conservative one.
I was not surprised to learn that a researcher who had created a system to analyze a judge's leanings over time was able to prove that SOC became much more liberal in her decisions as her decades of jurisprudence evolved.

SOC lived her values. She valued civility and personal relationships with her fellow justices and law clerks, and treated them with a touch of motherly attention. She valued decisiveness and never backed down from the tough decisions foisted on her as a judge. She had a pillow in her chambers, embroidered with the slogan "Maybe in error, Never in doubt". She was a decider.

Excellent book, excellent narrator. Worth your time and credit.

5 people found this helpful

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LOVED Kirsten Potters narration !

This book captures so much of Sandra and her incredible and inspiring journey but what made me come back to it day after day was Kristen’s reading / narration. The excitement and enthusiasm was ..... AMAZING! I look forward to hearing more from her.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing insight

This gave an amazing level into what Justice O’Connor had to go through. The author creates a clear timeline that goes from story to finish. You really feel like you know the Justice better. Highly recommended.

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Great Book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Judge O'Connor is a tremendous example of what one can accomplish in a lifetime by forging ahead and making your own path. It would have been very easy for her to stop at any level in her career bit she knew she could make a difference and she did! I highly recommend this to all, but especially to women. She is a remarkable role model for us all and the world is better for having had her on the Supreme Court.

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Too pedantic for me

I can't say there's anything wrong with this book, but it's not for me. I stopped listening about 2 hours in. If you really, really love O'Connor, then this may be great, but I was just looking to learn something about her life because I admire her accomplishments. Just too much detail. I should have known since it's 16 hours long. Narration is good.

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History of a new Breed

Excellent! Lots of history about Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'connor and the path she chose to lead as a leader. Absolutely love it.

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Nothing ever goes wrong in her life

This is a biography that is full of rainbows and unicorns. There is nothing about her strategies, struggles and solutions to become the women she is today. The fact that she voted against the Equal Rights Amendment infuriates me. Didn’t like the narrator either, sorry. Don’t bother unless u like unicorns and rainbows.

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Outstanding!

This biography is a gripping narrative of SOC’s life, ability to navigate the political scene, and impact on the SCOTUS. I found the analysis of her (small p) political acuity particularly compelling given the era in which her career emerged. Bush-Gore aside, her moderating voice was, and still is, needed on the court. My own brilliant mother descended into the fog of Alzheimer’s, forgetting everything she did in life. It’s sad to know that she too does/will not remember what an incredible individual she is and how many lives she touched. My political worldview is progressive, and I highly recommend this book for court watchers and anyone who wants to read about an amazing, influential woman and her life, regardless of your political worldview.

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Narration distracting

I bought the book because of the interesting story of Justice O’Connor. The narrator’s performance is horrible. Made the Justice sound snooty. Found all the pauses for affect distractions to the story. Couldn’t finish the book unfortunately.