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Publisher's Summary

Chief Justice Rehnquist's engaging writing illuminates both the high and low points in the Court's history, from Chief Justice Marshall's dominance of the Court during the early 19th century through the landmark decisions of the Warren Court. Citing cases such as the Dred Scott decision and Roosevelt's Court-packing plan, Rehnquist makes clear that the Court does not operate in a vacuum, that the justices are unavoidably influenced by their surroundings, and that their decisions have real and lasting impacts on our society.

The public often hears little about the Supreme Court until decisions are handed down. Here, Rehnquist reveals its inner workings-the process by which cases are chosen, the nature of the conferences where decisions are made, and the type of debates that take place. With grace and wit, this incisive history gives a dynamic and informative account of the most powerful court in the nation and how it has shaped the direction America has taken.

©2001 William H. Rehnquist (P)2017 Tantor

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-28-18

Absorbing

This book was first published in 1987. William H. Rehnquist (1924-2005) was born in Wisconsin and graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. His Stanford Law School classmate was Sandra Day O’Connor. This was the first book ever published by a sitting Chief Justice on the inner workings of the U. S. Supreme Court.

I most enjoyed the parts of the book where Rehnquist discussed his personal experiences, for example, when he described his first day as a law clerk to Justice Robert Jackson. In the last part of the book he provided some insights on what it was like to sit on the Supreme Court. Much of the book is about the history of the Court and some of the key landmark cases. I found the cases about the railroads of particular interest. It always amazes me how ruthless the railroads were at their zenith.

The book is well written. Rehnquist was a conservative justice, but he did a good job in keeping the book neutral. I was surprised at how well Rehnquist wrote and kept the book interesting. I have read a number of books about the Supreme Court so was familiar with much of the book. I was more interested in Rehnquist himself. For those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court, this would be a good starting book to acquire an overview of the workings of the court and its history.

The book is almost eleven hours. John Pruden did a good job narrating the book. Pruden is a voice-over artist and a full-time audiobook narrator. I am looking forward to listening to more book narrated by Pruden.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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View from the High Court

There have been other books written about the Supreme Court, but to the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been one that was authored by a Supreme Court Justice. That alone makes this history worth the price of admission.

Beginning with the creation of the Supreme Court and Marbury v. Maddison, William Rehnquist’s history covers everything from the greatest hits of the Marshall Court all the way through the Civil Rights victories of the Warren Court. The history lessons stop just as Rehnquist joins the Court (understandably so), but then the narrative shifts to a more personal look at Rehnquist’s own philosophy of the Court and it’s importance to America. Both sections go incredibly well together.

I already knew most of the landmark cases Justice Rehnquist describes here, but law school doesn’t teach students about individual personalities and philosophies of the various justices sitting on it. This book offers a fascinating insight into the inner workings of America’s most important, yet least understood branch of government. Plus, John Pruden’s narration carries the prose along at a very listenable pace. Whether you’re an attorney or a just a curious citizen, this is not one to be missed. Beyond highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful