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When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010) -- only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time. In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010) -- only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time. In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices -- Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts -- that he interacted with. He reminisces of being a law clerk during Vinson's tenure; a practicing lawyer for Warren; a circuit judge and junior justice for Burger; a contemporary colleague of Rehnquist; and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts. Along the way, he will discuss his views of some the most significant cases that have been decided by the Court from Vinson, who became Chief Justice in 1946 when Truman was President, to Roberts, who became Chief Justice in 2005. Packed with interesting anecdotes and stories about the Court, Five Chiefs is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States.


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When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010) -- only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time. In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010) -- only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time. In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices -- Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts -- that he interacted with. He reminisces of being a law clerk during Vinson's tenure; a practicing lawyer for Warren; a circuit judge and junior justice for Burger; a contemporary colleague of Rehnquist; and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts. Along the way, he will discuss his views of some the most significant cases that have been decided by the Court from Vinson, who became Chief Justice in 1946 when Truman was President, to Roberts, who became Chief Justice in 2005. Packed with interesting anecdotes and stories about the Court, Five Chiefs is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States.

30 review for Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    After reading the recent judicial memoir by former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, I was eager to get my hands on more of his writing. This piece serves as another such legal/judicial memoir, though its focus is much narrower and anecdotes fewer in number. Stevens uses this book to focus primarily on the five Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) with whom he had personal interactions, a daunting and interesting task in equal measure. Opening the book, Stevens gi After reading the recent judicial memoir by former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, I was eager to get my hands on more of his writing. This piece serves as another such legal/judicial memoir, though its focus is much narrower and anecdotes fewer in number. Stevens uses this book to focus primarily on the five Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) with whom he had personal interactions, a daunting and interesting task in equal measure. Opening the book, Stevens gives readers a brief backstory about the other Chiefs and their legacy, from political and historical happenings durning their tenure at the Court, as well as some of the most important cases that came before SCOTUS. Stevens also spends a little time telling the reader how the role of Chief Justice differs from the other Justices on the Court and how more recent holders of the office used their role to shape America outside of the legal decisions made there. Once Stevens is ready to tackle those legal leaders who influenced him personally, the anecdotes come out, as well as discussions of key cases that came to the Court during these tenures. These cases are, at times analysed and their decisions commented upon with Stevens’ own editorialising. From the clerking with Justice Fred Vincent, Stevens developed his passion for all things SCOTUS. These were the post-war years of the Court, when constitutional discussions became more heated and complicated. Stevens speaks about the fraternal nature of clerks and Justices, working together effectively to push forward the legal agenda. The arrival of Earl Warren changed the flavour of the Court significantly, as can be seen through the analysis of many legal scholars. Many important cases were argued and decided under the Warren Court, pushing a liberal interpretation of the US Constitution. Warren Burger brought the pendulum swinging back and served as Chief when Stevens was eventually appointed to the Court. Some say that Burger sought to claw the more conservative and ‘law and order’ approach back to the Court, though Stevens is openly critical about the lack of structure and leadership that Burger had over the other Justices. He would often cajole and choose which side to support last, ensuring he was usually in the majority. He was also known to push for the vilification of certain Justices, turning them into the Court’s public face of a decision that would not parallel the sentiments of society. After a hasty departure by Burger, William Rehnquist took over in the latter part of the 1980s, a time when Stevens feels the Court came into its own and its impartiality was evident. Rehnquist was passionate about structure the the image of the Court, but also wanted to ensure the Justices had their voice. A stickler for the rules, Rehnquist stuck by time limits and did not enjoy repetition when it could be avoided. His death while still Chief struck all those around the Court very hard, but also paved the way for a new and vibrant generation, in the form of John Roberts. During the final years of Stevens’ tenure on the Court, Roberts sought to fill the shoes of his predecessor, while also carving out his own unique approach. Stevens explores many of the interesting cases that came before the Court during this time, including the reinvigoration of debates on capital punishment, the Second Amendment (gun control), and election spending. In his closing remarks, Stevens offers readers a view of life as a retired Justice and how the Court continues to respect those who left. While there was surely much change for Stevens and the country under these five men, there is sure to be a great deal more, especially once a woman assumes the role of Chief Justice. A great approach to the modern SCOTUS and great complimentary piece to The Making of a Justice, the new and thorough memoir to which I referred earlier. Highly recommended to those who love the law and its interpretation, as well as readers who have an interest in the Supreme Court. I realise the law and constitutional discussions are not for everyone and this book is especially heavy on both accounts. Modern discussions of the core political rules of the American Republic can have many nuances that pull some readers in, particularly when juxtaposing the styles of the five men who served as Chief Justice during much of the discussion. Stevens seeks to draw many of the parallels, as well as keen differences here. The attentive reader will realise that the flavour of each Chief-led Court varies greatly on the types of cases that arrived and the other eight Justices who served alongside their leader. Stevens effectively presents cogent summaries of the cases throughout, a shorter summary that his full memoir, helping the reader to better understand many of the intricate details of the legal arguments, the struggles that occurred for the Justices as they sought to decide in conference, and society’s reaction to the rulings. While there is some technical nature to the cases and the overall narrative, it is easy enough to follow for those with an interest in the topics. Full of personal asides and anecdotes that are not captured in the decisions rendered from the bench, Stevens adds new angles to the memoir that may not be familiar to everyone. This added education adds depth and piques my curiosity to find even more in the coming months to understand the delicate balance between personalities and ideologies that shaped SCOTUS for the 35 years Justice John Paul Stevens was an active member. Kudos, Justice Stevens, for a stellar, while also shorter, memoir that kept my attention from cover to cover. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and will find the last piece you’ve written to discover even more of your views. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir was a delightful look at the musings and experiences of one of the longest-serving associate supreme court justices from the time of his appointment by President Gerald Ford in 1975 to the time of his retirement in 2010. Justice Stevens shares how as a young law student in 1945, he was so taken with the experiences that a beloved constitutional law professor, Nathaniel Nathanson, shared of many of the supreme court justices and landmark decisions he had witne Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir was a delightful look at the musings and experiences of one of the longest-serving associate supreme court justices from the time of his appointment by President Gerald Ford in 1975 to the time of his retirement in 2010. Justice Stevens shares how as a young law student in 1945, he was so taken with the experiences that a beloved constitutional law professor, Nathaniel Nathanson, shared of many of the supreme court justices and landmark decisions he had witnessed. It is in this vein, that Justice Stevens imparts to us his experiences over the years with Chief Justices Fred Vinson and Earl Warren as well as his experiences in serving with Supreme Court Chief Justices Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts. Although rambling at times, one must feel grateful for the opportunity of sharing in all of these experiences and the thought processes behind so many landmark decisions. Besides you can't help but smile at the photo on the cover portraying Justice Stevens' engaging smile and signature bow tie. "As a postscript to my brief comments about the first twelve leaders of the Supreme Court, I should add my opinion that five chiefs stand out as national leaders entitled to our highest respect: John Jay, John Marshall, William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, and Harlan F. Stone."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim Talbott

    I gave this book a much better rating than most other readers, so I feel like I should explain why. 1. I'm a total Supreme Court gossip junky, and this has lots of little details about the justices and their spouses. 2. People want this book to be like Toobin's "The Nine," but I like that when you're reading Stevens, you know he's making himself look good because he wrote it. Whereas in Toobin's book, the people who agreed to divulge dirt on other justices got to look good, but you really had to I gave this book a much better rating than most other readers, so I feel like I should explain why. 1. I'm a total Supreme Court gossip junky, and this has lots of little details about the justices and their spouses. 2. People want this book to be like Toobin's "The Nine," but I like that when you're reading Stevens, you know he's making himself look good because he wrote it. Whereas in Toobin's book, the people who agreed to divulge dirt on other justices got to look good, but you really had to read between the lines to figure that out. 3. Stevens goes out of his way to describe an ideal of jurisprudence in which concern for the institution of law, which includes justices being constrained by stare decisis, overrides personal ideology and a vision of the court in which collegiality continues in the face of deep ideological differences. He quite clearly understands that certain aspects of the court provide a type of theater that is meant to strengthen our faith in our legal institutions. Though that faith may appear quaint in this era of people on the right and left having lost faith in our public institutions, I strongly agree with Justice Stevens that it is a faith worth aspiring to and fortifying.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Good book. Not a law professor’s book; not even the sort of law professor’s book that’s written for a lay audience. Nor does it get deep into the weeds the way Edward Lazarus’s Closed Chambers did. Instead, it was like a casual conversation with someone who was deeply involved in writing the world we live in. It’s mostly conversational, but emotion does bubble up. On the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who he clearly had great respect for: “Thurgood’s retirement may well have been the Good book. Not a law professor’s book; not even the sort of law professor’s book that’s written for a lay audience. Nor does it get deep into the weeds the way Edward Lazarus’s Closed Chambers did. Instead, it was like a casual conversation with someone who was deeply involved in writing the world we live in. It’s mostly conversational, but emotion does bubble up. On the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who he clearly had great respect for: “Thurgood’s retirement may well have been the most significant judicial event of Bill Rehnquist’s tenure as chief justice. When I reflect on its importance, I think first about my memories of his contributions to our conferences and his personal friendship, and second about the changes in the Court’s jurisprudence that are attributable to his successor, Clarence Thomas.” (186) . . . “The importance of the change in the Court’s jurisprudence that is directly attributable to the choice of Clarence Thomas to fill the vacancy created by Thurgood’s retirement cannot be overstated. . . . [D]ecisions made by five-to-four votes in which Clarence was a member of the majority are evidence of that importance because I am convinced that Thurgood would have voted with the four dissenters in most, if not all, of them While Thurgood’s jurisprudence reflected an understanding that the Constitution was drafted ‘to form a more perfect Union’ – and thus to accommodate unforeseen changes in society – Justice Thomas’s repeated emphasis on historical analysis seems to assume that we should view the Union as perfect in the beginning and subject to improvement only by following the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution. Three five-to-four decisions in which Clarence provided the critical vote to invalidate federal gun control laws illustrate the point.” (187-88) Which is a wonderful articulation of how the judge’s understanding of the constitution impacts the bottom line decision. Is it an instrument of the ongoing Enlightenment, or was it ghost written by the divine or invisible hand? I know what I believe, or at least, which tentative hypothesis I’m operating under. But I can’t say I’m without sympathy for the pragmatic view that giving judges the ability to announce what the Constitution really means amounts to an enormous delegation of power to those wearing the black robes. It’s all a rich tapestry. Movin’ on. We spent weeks on Seminole Tribe in Federal Courts once upon a time. That’s the case where the court, via Chief Justice Rehnquist, found states had a type of constitutional sovereign immunity implicit in the Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment says “The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” The conservative majority of the court found this prevented the Seminole Tribe of Florida from suing the State of Florida for violation of its federal statutory rights. My eyes glaze over trying to remember the court’s reasoning now (amazing how rarely people ask state courts to figure out such things). Stevens is comparatively scathing in his condemnation of the chief’s reasoning, observing ““Depriving a state of the mysterious right to protect its dignity from its own citizens is equally necessary to protect the federal rights of those citizens.” (196). Which, if you know the embarrassing history of the 14th Amendment in federal courts during Reconstruction, is a devastating critique. Stevens is almost Hitchens-esque in his final observation on Seminole Tribe: “Like the gold stripes on his robes, Chief Justice Rehnquist’s writing about sovereignty was ostentatious and more reflective of the ancient British monarchy than our modern republic. I am hopeful that his writings in this area will not be long remembered.” (197). In the USSC, when the chief is in the dissent, the senior judge in the majority makes the writing assignment. Stevens is dead on when he observed that “I do think I hit the nail on the head in at least three important cases (Blakely v. Washington, Romer v. Evans, and Grutter v. Bollinger) in which the chief was in the dissent. Despite vigorous dissent in each, these three excellent opinions will, I am confident, pass the test of time with flying colors.” (238) “Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the court in Romer v. Evans (1996) . . . sounded the death knell to Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 cases holding that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not forbid Georgia from making it a crime for same-sex couples to engage in conduct that was assumed to be lawful for heterosexuals. By making mere animus toward a group an inadequate rationale for a discriminatory law under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Romer suggested that a criminal prohibition of homosexual sodomy would likely be struck down if challenged on equal protection grounds. Seven years later, in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Justice O’Connor took this position.” (239-40). I can’t say I have never cursed Blakely and wished the court hadn’t just admitted it made a mistake, or at least, suffered a failure of imagination, when it said that legislatures could simply declare what was an element, what was a sentencing factor, but I cannot quarrel with its bottom line. The State should prove its case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, not persuade a judge on a preponderance standard. That works for me. Which they’d pointed that out A LITTLE EARLIER. He also alludes to Parents Involved, a case I spent no little time on once upon a time. And because of him, I know that President Ford and I have more similar feelings than I realized. A good book. Glad I read it. It won’t be on my shelf next to Cardozo’s The Nature of the Judicial Process, metaphorically, but it was still fascinating to see this sort of exploration of how the court operates. Geoff Stone’s review is spot on. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffre.... I'm not sure I have the same edition Good Reads had since the page count is off.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    It's telling that after serving on the bench for 35 years and retiring at 90, Justice Stevens publishes a Supreme Court memoir mostly about five other guys. Stevens does take the opportunity to disagree, a lot. But he remains constructive in his disagreement, which is an achievement considering how crucial the issues are (the death penalty, campaign finance and gun control). His criticism is unequivocal but he still doesn't harp on Citizens United (though he does refer us to his 90-page dissent) It's telling that after serving on the bench for 35 years and retiring at 90, Justice Stevens publishes a Supreme Court memoir mostly about five other guys. Stevens does take the opportunity to disagree, a lot. But he remains constructive in his disagreement, which is an achievement considering how crucial the issues are (the death penalty, campaign finance and gun control). His criticism is unequivocal but he still doesn't harp on Citizens United (though he does refer us to his 90-page dissent). His treatment of Bush v. Gore is extremely pragmatic: he tells us that voting to deny the stay (which would have instituted the Florida recount) was a no-brainer, but as nothing more can be done about it, he declines to comment on the end result. Not even a glib aside, because Justice Stevens is too awesome for that. He saves his real energy for the Eleventh Amendment and sovereign immunity, which apparently really rile him up. Who knew? I wish he had spoken about his Fourth Amendment jurisprudence (he authored Gant and never even mentions it!) but then, his focus is never on himself and primarily on what he feels must change. I'm almost (but not really) glad he retired before the Court decided Maryland v. King, the DNA collection case; he mentions being impacted by DNA evidence exonerating death row inmates, and if he had voted with the majority in King, I might have cried. Reading this satisfied the law itch I didn't know I had. Now if I had only realized I could read books about the law instead of actually practicing it, where would I be?? Though I definitely geeked out when Justice Stevens refers to his "most frequently cited opinion." It's just super exciting to be one of the hundreds of thousands of lawyers who have cited it. Trivia I learned: Justice Stevens' appointment to the Court was opposed by the National Organization of Women!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Ehhhhhhh. Even in the realm of reading something as an homage to a jurist I very much admire, this was kind of a snooze. I still love you, Justice Stevens! I wore a bow-tie for your birthday! But your book is not that good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Enjoying this book is going to depend entirely on how fascinating you find Supreme Court procedures and rulings. If you are interested in personalities and gossip of high-powered Washington insiders, you will only get glimpses. Stevens, it seems, is a gentleman. He rates each of the Chief Justices under whom he worked (either as clerk, arguing advocate, or fellow justice). Stevens seems to strive to combine accuracy with tact and fairness in his analyses. He includes strengths and weaknesses for Enjoying this book is going to depend entirely on how fascinating you find Supreme Court procedures and rulings. If you are interested in personalities and gossip of high-powered Washington insiders, you will only get glimpses. Stevens, it seems, is a gentleman. He rates each of the Chief Justices under whom he worked (either as clerk, arguing advocate, or fellow justice). Stevens seems to strive to combine accuracy with tact and fairness in his analyses. He includes strengths and weaknesses for everyone in both rulings and Court management. He spends the bulk of the book discussing various rulings that he feels were significant under each chief, and cases he thinks exemplify the style of each chief. If you find Constitutional interpretation interesting (which I usually do), then you'll enjoy most of this book. Thrown among these cases are explanations of procedure and set-up which are sometimes interesting and sometimes more than I really needed to know. There are also the occasional looks at personalities and lightly humorous anecdotes. I'm sure Stevens could have provided more, and for many readers, it would have been nice to feel a greater connection to the people than the cases. However, Stevens obviously values the work of the Supreme Court over gossip, as well he should.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    An interesting perspective by Justice Stevens on his time on the court; the focus on the Five Chief Justices that he knew including the three that he served with on his time of the court. There is some irony on this focus in that after leaving aside the administrative parts of the job, a theme of Stevens is that the Chief Justice is just one of nine in deciding the major legal issues facing our country. While the book includes discussion of the legal issues and the perspective of Stevens on the m An interesting perspective by Justice Stevens on his time on the court; the focus on the Five Chief Justices that he knew including the three that he served with on his time of the court. There is some irony on this focus in that after leaving aside the administrative parts of the job, a theme of Stevens is that the Chief Justice is just one of nine in deciding the major legal issues facing our country. While the book includes discussion of the legal issues and the perspective of Stevens on the major cases decided during his tenure including the origin and benefits of each Justice shaking every other Justice's hand before oral argument, the physical layout of the Court including the proximity of the lawyers to the Justices in oral argument, and the role of clerks and staff and description of the conferences and circulation of opinions. What struck me the most is that Justice Stevens did not shy away from stating his disagreements with his fellow Justices during his tenure and why he believed that they came to wrong decisions and the negative consequences but that he described those disagreements with such grace and class and genuine affection for the Justices with whom he disagreed

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cicely

    Rambly schmably. I guess the description had me hoping for a slightly different kind of book - if it had been called "random thoughts on my awesome life and the people I ran into" by Justice John Paul Stevens, I was totally there. I thought there would be more about the transitions in the court from Chief to Chief, which I felt was lacking, except in a really superficial way, when Stevens seemed to remember that that is what his memoir was supposed to be detailing - accomplished with random, non Rambly schmably. I guess the description had me hoping for a slightly different kind of book - if it had been called "random thoughts on my awesome life and the people I ran into" by Justice John Paul Stevens, I was totally there. I thought there would be more about the transitions in the court from Chief to Chief, which I felt was lacking, except in a really superficial way, when Stevens seemed to remember that that is what his memoir was supposed to be detailing - accomplished with random, non-segued stuff about each chief's administrative capabilities. I had to give it three stars, because Justices of any kind give me the chills (read: they can say whatever they want, and I love them), and because I thought the historical anecdotes were delightful. I don't think I would have enjoyed the book nearly as much if I wasn't a lawyer (hahahhaa, I actually get to call myself a lawyer!) and hadn't read all of the cases that he cites. If I had to encourage a rewrite I would say TIGHTEN YOUR SHIP. But honest to god, when you're 90 years old, readers have to cut you some slack, right? Okay, that's enough.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Perhaps only a lawyer or Supreme Court nerd could love this book, but I certainly did. Stevens writes with humor and intelligence about the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, especially the five he has known. I particularly appreciated his bipartisan and fair minded approach, which reminds me of the now remote time when people disagreed respectfully.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    I enjoyed this memoir by Justice John Paul Stevens, though it suffers from an ailment that books by longtime public figures often have: it comes across in many places as too diplomatic and too unwilling to criticize. That said, I found Stevens' perspective on Warren Burger the most interesting, since Burger has long been an object of ridicule, perhaps in part because of Bob Woodward's less-than-stellar portrait of him in "The Brethren." It is clear that Stevens, by contrast, believes that Burger I enjoyed this memoir by Justice John Paul Stevens, though it suffers from an ailment that books by longtime public figures often have: it comes across in many places as too diplomatic and too unwilling to criticize. That said, I found Stevens' perspective on Warren Burger the most interesting, since Burger has long been an object of ridicule, perhaps in part because of Bob Woodward's less-than-stellar portrait of him in "The Brethren." It is clear that Stevens, by contrast, believes that Burger was a very good and underappreciated chief justice. Probably the only justice that Stevens has nothing good to say about is Clarence Thomas, the conservative replacement to civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall. As Stevens notes: "The importance of the change in the Court's jurisprudence that is directly attributable to the choice of Clarence Thomas to fill the vacancy created by Thurgood's retirement cannot be overstated. ... [D]ecisions made by five-to-four votes in which Clarence was a member of the majority are evidence of that importance because I am convinced that Thurgood would have voted with the four dissenters in most, if not all, of them. While Thurgood's jurisprudence reflected an understanding that the Constitution was drafted 'to form a more perfect Union' -- and thus to accommodate unforeseen changes in society -- Justice Thomas's repeated emphasis on historical analysis seems to assume that we should view the Union as perfect from the beginning and subject to improvement only by following the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Stevens offers some engaging insight about each of the five Chief Justices he worked with, Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts. He discussed the times, judicial approaches, opinions, respective roles on the court, administration abilities, leadership, personal and professional challenges and their relationship with colleagues. He also talks about the court as an institution. The book is a series of anecdotes, observation and musings that is enlighten and Stevens offers some engaging insight about each of the five Chief Justices he worked with, Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts. He discussed the times, judicial approaches, opinions, respective roles on the court, administration abilities, leadership, personal and professional challenges and their relationship with colleagues. He also talks about the court as an institution. The book is a series of anecdotes, observation and musings that is enlighten and informative. Stevens made a point of explaining the strong points as well as the weakness and follies of each Chief. The beginning of the book starts with his clerkship to Justice Wiley Rutledge in 1947 under the Vinson court. When he was a clerk he tells watching Thurgood Marshall arguing, an equal protection case, before the Supreme Court and how impressed he was with Marshall’s skill. This book provides us with a glimpse of life inside the court. I read this as an e-book via my Kindle app on my Ipad.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Okano

    Chatty legal memoir by Justice Stephens about the five Chief Justices with whom he had dealings. Occasionally the discussion gets into obtuse principles of constitutional law. But there are other attractions to this book: for example, who knew that there are spitoons behind the US Supreme Court bench? Or that Justices Stephens and Breyer agreed that the Bush Campaign's application to stay the Florida recount was so frivolous that the Court would never grant it? Justice Stephens manages to roundl Chatty legal memoir by Justice Stephens about the five Chief Justices with whom he had dealings. Occasionally the discussion gets into obtuse principles of constitutional law. But there are other attractions to this book: for example, who knew that there are spitoons behind the US Supreme Court bench? Or that Justices Stephens and Breyer agreed that the Bush Campaign's application to stay the Florida recount was so frivolous that the Court would never grant it? Justice Stephens manages to roundly criticize some of the decisions by some in the conservative wing of the Court without resorting to name calling. And he didn't especially like Chief Justice Rehnquist's gold stripes, but confirms what other justices have said: that Rehnquist was a very efficient Chief Justice who was fair to all wings of the Court. A good read for lawyers and laypersons interested in the workings of the Court.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Try as I might, I just couldn't finish it. I'm a fan of most popular writing about the Supreme Court--not just Toobin, but also biographies of justices. But this was just so dull. At once too detailed about some pretty mundane aspects of Stevens' life and almost too abstract about the role of the law. He also tended to talk about the intricacies of some of the major cases as if we are all necessarily familiar with them already. This was true for me for a few of them, but not most. I kept on tell Try as I might, I just couldn't finish it. I'm a fan of most popular writing about the Supreme Court--not just Toobin, but also biographies of justices. But this was just so dull. At once too detailed about some pretty mundane aspects of Stevens' life and almost too abstract about the role of the law. He also tended to talk about the intricacies of some of the major cases as if we are all necessarily familiar with them already. This was true for me for a few of them, but not most. I kept on telling myself it would get better the closer we got to the present, but I kept on being wrong. I gave up about halfway through Burger.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Man, JP Stevens never forgets a grudge. And he never fails to describe a grudge in the politest possible terms. He spent like seventy-five pages not quite saying that CJ Rehnquist was a peacocking slacker who never read the Constitution. I love it, but you have to love that kind of stuff to love this book. JP Stevens's editor could have used a heavier hand. Still, breezy, a quick read, and enjoyable. Also, a good crash course on all of the terrible constitutional decisions in the last thirty yea Man, JP Stevens never forgets a grudge. And he never fails to describe a grudge in the politest possible terms. He spent like seventy-five pages not quite saying that CJ Rehnquist was a peacocking slacker who never read the Constitution. I love it, but you have to love that kind of stuff to love this book. JP Stevens's editor could have used a heavier hand. Still, breezy, a quick read, and enjoyable. Also, a good crash course on all of the terrible constitutional decisions in the last thirty years. Spoiler: Many were by Rehnquist.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This book was disappointing. I was expecting an examination of what the five Chief Justices are like and their contributions as seen by a longtime member of the court. Instead the book is partly a discussion of the chiefs but mostly its a rambling memoir, similar to but not as interesting as all the other books on recent Supreme Court history. In essence this is a way for Justice Stevens to get the last word on some cases, the outcome of which he disagrees with.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kramer

    The book focuses on the five Chief Justices that Justice Stevens had met, but also provides a short bio on all Chief Justices of the United States. The book gives a nice, behind the scenes look at the Supreme Court.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Justice Stevens lived to 99 years of age. A Republican nominated to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, Stevens served from 1975 until he retired in 2010. He evolved into the court's "liberal lion" during his tenure. In the introduction to Five Chiefs Stevens writes, "My objective in writing this book is to share memories of these men and their work.... I do not intend to provide a comprehensive review of their jurisprudence or tenures. Instead, I hope that my recollections will improve public unde Justice Stevens lived to 99 years of age. A Republican nominated to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, Stevens served from 1975 until he retired in 2010. He evolved into the court's "liberal lion" during his tenure. In the introduction to Five Chiefs Stevens writes, "My objective in writing this book is to share memories of these men and their work.... I do not intend to provide a comprehensive review of their jurisprudence or tenures. Instead, I hope that my recollections will improve public understanding of their work and the office that they each occupied with honor and varying degrees of expertise." (p. 6) The five chief justices that Stevens reminisces about: Fred Vinson (through the eyes of one of Vinson's clerks); Earl Warren (while a practicing lawyer, Stevens met Warren); Warren Burger (first when Stevens was a circuit judge and then when he became a Supreme Court junior justice); Bill Rehnquist (Stevens was a "contemporary colleague"); and John Roberts (Stevens was an "observer of [Roberts'] superb advocacy" and then Roberts became a justice). In Chapter I, Stevens writes about the nation's first twelve Supreme Court chiefs. In Chapter II the job description of the chief justice is delineated. The chief gets just a tiny bit more pay than the associates because of his (so far) additional duties. Supreme Court justices' salaries are lower than the private sector pays attorneys and Stevens wanted that to change. In Chapters III through VII, Stevens discusses the five chiefs listed above. About each justice he tells how they made their way to the Court, some important cases that occurred during their tenure, and when Stevens felt that a decision was "unfortunate" or "correct." He discusses any operational changes that the chiefs made to the court's proceedings at the bench and/or in conference. Here and there Stevens talks a little about the personalities, interests, hobbies, and families of the chiefs, but not too much. All the while Stevens reminisces about his own life and career, the opinions he is proud of and his mistakes, and his friends and colleagues. Chapter VIII is called "Second Among Equals." In it Stevens discusses his tenure as the most senior associate justice, from 1994 until he retired in 2010. The most senior associate is sometimes called the second among equals (the chief justice is known as the "chief among equals"). The most senior associate sometimes sits in for the chief when the chief is not available and "must often assign the preparation of Court opinions when the chief is in dissent." Five Chiefs is nicely organized. An epilogue follows Chapter VIII. Then comes the Appendix, which is the Constitution of the United States and the "Articles to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several states, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution." It was very thoughtful to include the Constitution since, naturally, constant reference is made to it when Stevens discusses the opinions rising from the cases that came before the court. The Appendix is followed by Justice Stevens' Acknowledgements, which is followed by the index, which is followed by "About the Author." Since I wrote a long and middle-school-ish "review," I'll include like only one interesting passage out of many from the book: "It was in 1980 that the chief’s [Warren Burger’s] repeatedly stated views about the limited reach of the Second Amendment gained voice in Justice Blackmun’s opinion for the Court in Lewis v. United States….On a good many occasions he [Burger] went out of his way to criticize scholars who argued in favor of a broader reading of the Second Amendment. Although none of his colleagues shared his rather emotional reaction, I never heard anyone on the Court express any disagreement with his views about the Second Amendment. And in Lewis, Blackmun wrote on behalf of the Court that 'The Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’ That uncontroversial statement remained an accurate characterization of the Court’s long-settled and correct understanding of the meaning of the Second Amendment up until the Court’s unfortunate decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to keep a handgun in the home." (pp. 149-150)

  19. 5 out of 5

    JQAdams

    This is a very discursive sort of book; Stevens free-associates about whatever he wants to, producing a whole that is less "memoir" than the subtitle suggests (you'll get several-page discussions about the legal merits of certain arguments) but not really a sustained legal or historical study, either. That is, while most of the chapters are structured around the tenure of one particular Chief Justice, there's no pretense of covering them systematically. Instead, there will be a grab bag of perso This is a very discursive sort of book; Stevens free-associates about whatever he wants to, producing a whole that is less "memoir" than the subtitle suggests (you'll get several-page discussions about the legal merits of certain arguments) but not really a sustained legal or historical study, either. That is, while most of the chapters are structured around the tenure of one particular Chief Justice, there's no pretense of covering them systematically. Instead, there will be a grab bag of personal recollections of those justices, remarks about things that happened to occur while those justices headed the court, and analysis of idiosyncratically selected cases that the court decided. As such it gives a much better sense of Justice Stevens's personality than about any particular topic, and Stevens seems engaging enough. And there are a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits about things like the layout of the Supreme Court building -- Stevens is kind of hilariously annoyed about a decision to move the table in the justices' conference room; for no obvious reason, the main floor only has room for eight justices' chambers on the main floor, so Sonia Sotomayor (and David Souter before her) is off by herself on a different floor -- or the decision process in individual cases. I don't know that I would recommend the book for most people, but I enjoyed it a lot more than the somewhat similar E. O. Wilson book I read recently.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    John Paul Stevens has a unique perspective of the Supreme Court and its chief justices - he served on the Supreme Court for the third-longest term in American History. Along the way, he worked with and got to know five chief justices: Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist and John Roberts. In this book, he discusses some of their most important decisions and how they came about. The author also does a review of the other chief justices through the years. This book would be a John Paul Stevens has a unique perspective of the Supreme Court and its chief justices - he served on the Supreme Court for the third-longest term in American History. Along the way, he worked with and got to know five chief justices: Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist and John Roberts. In this book, he discusses some of their most important decisions and how they came about. The author also does a review of the other chief justices through the years. This book would be an important read for a scholar of the Supreme Court, and is also an interesting read for the rest of us.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melita

    Some of the particulars of various cases were lost on me, but in general I liked hearing about the Supreme Court, something I don't know much about. The insider view of any Justice is interesting. He ends with a great quote by Lincoln, "It is as much the duty of Government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of its citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals." Whether or not I agree with all his reasonings as a judge, I agree with his overall sentiment. Go Some of the particulars of various cases were lost on me, but in general I liked hearing about the Supreme Court, something I don't know much about. The insider view of any Justice is interesting. He ends with a great quote by Lincoln, "It is as much the duty of Government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of its citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals." Whether or not I agree with all his reasonings as a judge, I agree with his overall sentiment. Go Labbies!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Edward Delaney

    I'd give this one a star for ever Chief Justice discussed in depth. John Paul Steven may have been the best SCOTUS justice in the last century, and this should be a reading requirement in advanced legal classes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I really liked the parts when he writes about the inner workings of the Court.

  24. 4 out of 5

    kit!

    3.5 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I received this book through the firstreads program, and it sat on my shelf for a while. Once I finally opened it and got into the first chapter, on the Court's first twelve chief justices, I quickly needed to call a lawyer friend for a better explanation of the Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) case, which established - or actually didn't establish - U.S. law on sovereign immunity. My putting the book aside for a while wasn't a judgment on its style - because Stevens writes beautifully. It was more my I received this book through the firstreads program, and it sat on my shelf for a while. Once I finally opened it and got into the first chapter, on the Court's first twelve chief justices, I quickly needed to call a lawyer friend for a better explanation of the Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) case, which established - or actually didn't establish - U.S. law on sovereign immunity. My putting the book aside for a while wasn't a judgment on its style - because Stevens writes beautifully. It was more my feeling not quite up to not understanding the cases that he breezily refers to. I don't depend upon Da Vinci Code's short chapters to boost my smarts self-esteem, but Five Chiefs was an uncomfortable stretch. When I got back to the book, I decided to just plow through. I wouldn't call Jack or endlessly google the references, I'd just get what I could from the book. That actually turned out to be quite a bit. My takeaways: * There have been great chief justices (including John Jay, John Marshall, William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, and Harlan F. Stone), adequate chief justices, and inadequate ones (including Roger Taney - author of Dred Scott - and William Rehnquist). * The justices disagree without being disagreeable. Stevens truly believes this. His harsher criticisms of the judges he served with - Rehnquist and Thomas in particular - are still couched in friendly disappointment. * You're more likely to become a justice if your name is Marshall, Rutledge, Chase, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Lamar, or White. * Most of the Court's decisions are in no way cut and dried, obviously right or wrong. And yet the justices clearly think about them within a legalistic/constitutional framework that often seems arbitrary. For instance, Stevens writes about the Court's decision in Standard Oil Co. v. United States and United States v. American Tobacco Co., saying that the 1911 Court found that those companies had violated the Sherman antitrust law. "In reaching that result, [then Chief Justice] White discussed at length the so-called rule of reason — the rule stating that only acts that unreasonably restrain trade violate federal antitrust laws."As I explained in an opinion written shortly after I joined the Court, it was necessary to adopt such a rule because a literal reading of the text of the Sherman Act would have outlawed the entire body of private contract law.OK. But how can that possibly not end up being arbitrary? Stevens, by the way, was appointed by President Ford, a Republican, and voted with conservatives until conservatives out-conservatived themselves into radicalism. He ended up escaping being boxed. He's kind of an old-school Republican libertarian moderate. Of the justices he's served with, he had the most good to say about Thurgood Marshall and the least good to say about the man who took Marshall's seat, Clarence Thomas. I think that the very best insight Stevens offers comes on page 187, in relation to those two men. While Thurgood's jurisprudence reflected an understanding that the Constitution was drafted "to form a more perfect union" - and thus to accommodate unforeseen changes in society - Justice Thomas's repeated emphasis on historical analysis seems to assume that we should view the Union as perfect at the beginning and subject to improvements only by following the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution.Another important takeaway is Stevens's old-fashioned emphasis on etiquette and tradition, possibly part of the foundation of the justices' ability to work together despite sharp and momentous disagreements. Shaking hands. No stripes on the Chief Justice's robes (as Rehnquist initiated and Roberts declined to continue). About those stripes: Like the gold stripes on his robes, Chief Justice Rehnquist's writing about sovereignty was ostentatious and more reflective of the ancient British monarchy than our modern republic. I am hopeful that his writings in this area will not be long remembered.Ouch.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    When I first heard that John Paul Stevens was writing a memoir that coved his life's intersection with the Supreme Court of the United States, I was very excited.  He was one of my favorite justices, due to his somewhat liberal bent.  Liberal in that the rest of the Court had moved so far to the right that a moderate conservative is now seen as a "liberal". What a fantastic book.  Stevens gives insight into his judicial philosophy and what has transpired during the tenures of the last five Chief When I first heard that John Paul Stevens was writing a memoir that coved his life's intersection with the Supreme Court of the United States, I was very excited.  He was one of my favorite justices, due to his somewhat liberal bent.  Liberal in that the rest of the Court had moved so far to the right that a moderate conservative is now seen as a "liberal". What a fantastic book.  Stevens gives insight into his judicial philosophy and what has transpired during the tenures of the last five Chief Justices.  He briefly touches on the twelve Chiefs who preceded his time with the Court.  Interestingly, his five greatest Chiefs all were before he became acquainted with the Court.  They were John Jay (1st Chief), John Marshall (4th and his favorite), William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan F. Stone.   Stevens also gives a rare insider view of the mechanics of the Court, regarding personal interactions, filing systems, discussions and some non-judicial activities.  For anyone interested in important cases that concern our Constitution or juris prudence since our Founding as a nation, you really want to read this book.  I'd really hate to give away the cool things he tells us about the more mundane things that happen behind closed doors, but suffice it to say, working at Joe's Bar is never a dull day!  The five Chiefs he covers are Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Berger, William Rehnquist and John Roberts, Jr.  Stevens was a clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge during Vinson's term as Chief. He was a private attorney during Warren's term and then a justice during the remaining three Chiefs time at the Court. He seems to have the most distaste for Rehnquist (as do I) as far as his approach to liberty, the death penalty, states rights and his personal arrogance (e.g. decorating the Chiefs robes differently than the other justices on the Court).  My greatest distaste with the book in not in what it covers but in Stevens takes on judicial pay.  He claims that judges, especially at the federal level, aren't paid enough. I've heard this argument and thought it convincing when I've read it in other places.  Stevens, however, really destroys its veracity for me.  He says that he had to sell his summer home, that he flew to on the plane he owned, because he couldn't afford it as a judge.  His friend on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals also had to sell his second home when he was appointed.  Excuse me but WTF!  Stevens and his ilk must have no comprehension of fairness if they believe owning multiple homes and private planes is something their salary should cover when the great masses of this country don't have their own homes or much money.  Overall, this book was an excellent read by a mostly excellent justice.  His thoughts on the death penalty, states rights and how the Constituion is a living document are worth the price of admission.  As he says near the end, history "provides an insufficient guide to the meaning of our Constituion."  Justice John Paul's Stevens memoir of his time interacting with the Court is part history, part analysis and part "user's guide" to our Nation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Yune

    I quietly adored this book, but I'm still pretty new to SCOTUS literature (Toobin's The Nine is now on my reading list). As with most of my realizations about politics, it hit me rather belatedly how far-reaching the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions could be, and this particular branch of the government is wrapped up in Latin and a preponderance of older folks in dark robes and the accompanying intimidation factor. Aspects I particularly appreciated: a human face to the justices--Basketball was his I quietly adored this book, but I'm still pretty new to SCOTUS literature (Toobin's The Nine is now on my reading list). As with most of my realizations about politics, it hit me rather belatedly how far-reaching the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions could be, and this particular branch of the government is wrapped up in Latin and a preponderance of older folks in dark robes and the accompanying intimidation factor. Aspects I particularly appreciated: a human face to the justices--Basketball was his particular favorite, at least while his son was a star on his high school team. I am told that Bill sometimes used rather strong language to voice his disapproval of unfavorable rulings by the referee in his son's games....a willingness to speak forthrightly about matters he disagreed with, while remaining excruciatingly polite about it--I understand that he enforced a ten-day rule that accorded his clerks only that limited time period in which to complete the first draft of every one of his opinions. No matter how large the record was or how difficult the legal issues were, the draft was due in ten days. I think the quality of some of his opinions may have been adversely affected by that rule....clear explanations of the ramifications of each case discussed, and of the procedures used by the High Court that even a layman such as I could understand, often with a bit of history thrown in. Of course, someone better familiar with these aspects might rightfully find Justice Stevens's gentle pace to be boring. It is also quite possible that people with different political views than Justice Stevens (and c'mon, we all know they each have leanings) would find this book less appealing. But there's such lucidity in the arguments made that I can see the reasonableness of the presented viewpoint. The prose was smooth without being overly facile, the way a particularly intelligent and kind great-uncle might teach things to you, with accompanying sparks of humor. This is not a comprehensive book by any means, either in terms of the cases discussed (Justice Stevens picks out cases he believes to be of special note in each chief's era) or in gossip (if anything, I found myself marveling over the air of congeniality maintained among the justices). But it was illuminating -- and reassuring, in some ways -- to see how some of the most impactful decisions in my country are made from that side of the bench.A dissenting judge is never happy, because it is obvious that either the majority has come to the wrong conclusion or his own reasoning is flawed. There are times, however, when a member of the majority may be unhappy about the outcome because he or she may disagree with the result that the law requires. As Thurgood Marshall observed on more than one occasion, the Constitution does not prohibit Congress from enacting stupid laws.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    Books about the United States Supreme Court belong to my favorite genre of non-fiction. The nine justices wield enormous power, surpassing that of most, if not all, politicians. The results of their deliberations affect the country in a much deeper way than the election of a particular president, Carter or Reagan, Bush or Obama. John Paul Stevens, retired since 2010, is one of my most admired justices, probably because of his lifelong tradition of moderate views and opinions. He had been consider Books about the United States Supreme Court belong to my favorite genre of non-fiction. The nine justices wield enormous power, surpassing that of most, if not all, politicians. The results of their deliberations affect the country in a much deeper way than the election of a particular president, Carter or Reagan, Bush or Obama. John Paul Stevens, retired since 2010, is one of my most admired justices, probably because of his lifelong tradition of moderate views and opinions. He had been considered a member of the more liberal wing of the Court, but his liberalism was of the kind I believe in - pragmatic and open-minded rather than doctrinal and extremist. Mainly though, I envy him that he could retire at the age of 90 in full command of his intellect. He published "Five Chiefs. A Supreme Court Memoir" at 91. A great majority of us will be enriching the soil at that age, and even if we are still vertical, we will be incoherent, incapacitated, and incontinent. The main topic of the memoir is J. P. Stevens' assessment of five Chief Justices he knew personally or worked under: Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts. The best quality of Justice Stevens' writing is again his moderation. He is not an admirer of his own intellectual brilliance (the trait displayed for instance by Justice Scalia). He praises the achievements of each Chief, and the criticisms of their decisions do not overweight the overall positives. Of course, this is mainly a book about making the law of the country. Justice Stevens writes about the most important decisions reached under each of the five Chiefs, which makes it a great read for people interested in judicial history. The serious tone of the book does not exclude funny moments like one where Justice Stevens writes that "in [Rehnquist's and Scalia's] view, a life sentence in prison for overtime parking would be constitutional." The comment about Chief Justice Rehnquist putting four gold stripes on each sleeve of his robes is hilarious. And I love the psychological observation that during Mr. Stevens' oral argument before the Supreme Court in 1962 (13 years before he became a justice himself), the justices seemed to loom just inches away from him, while in reality they were seated over six feet away. So huge was the perception of their stature. Good book and a worthy read. Three and a half stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I received a copy of Five Chiefs thanks to goodreads' first reads. In the book, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens recounts his time on the Court by reviewing the Chief Justices with whom he served. Before getting to this, he gives a brief run down of the Chief Justices that came before his tenure on the Court, highlighting their major contribution, both positive and negative, to the jurisprudence of this country. I think Justice Stevens tried to write a book that would appeal to a m I received a copy of Five Chiefs thanks to goodreads' first reads. In the book, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens recounts his time on the Court by reviewing the Chief Justices with whom he served. Before getting to this, he gives a brief run down of the Chief Justices that came before his tenure on the Court, highlighting their major contribution, both positive and negative, to the jurisprudence of this country. I think Justice Stevens tried to write a book that would appeal to a mass audience, no legal education required. However, the end result is still a bit too legal to probably keep your average Joe entertained. Try as he might to avoid it, Justice Stevens still used an awful lot of legal jargon and off-handedly referred to legal procedures that most people aren't going to be familiar with-and did so without explaining what the terms meant, or how the jurisdiction worked. At the same time, he was brief and cursory enough with his legal analysis of decisions that the book won't do much for lawyers or legal scholars either. Seeing how I have a better chance of winning the lottery than becoming a Supreme Court justice, I was hoping reading this book would give me an inside look at what it would be like to be "one of the Supremes." It really didn't. I still have little concept of how the court operates on a day-to-day basis, or how heated, or long deliberations between the Justices get. These men and women make some of the most important decisions going, yet you get no hint of stress, or even acknowledgment of the weight resting on their shoulders from this book. I was hoping to get an inside glimpse into the most powerful Court of the land, but Five Chiefs just doesn't quite get you there.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allizabeth Collins

    Description: Five Chiefs is memoir detailing John Paul Stevens' life and career as a Supreme Court Justice, which includes sections about the Chief Justices he served under. Review: I have never been a "politics-junky", but as I have gotten older I've realized the importance of politics in today's society. So when I read the blurb, I decided to try reading it. Thankfully, John Paul Stevens writing style and organization wasn't as dry and boring as I thought it would be. Sure, some sections seemed Description: Five Chiefs is memoir detailing John Paul Stevens' life and career as a Supreme Court Justice, which includes sections about the Chief Justices he served under. Review: I have never been a "politics-junky", but as I have gotten older I've realized the importance of politics in today's society. So when I read the blurb, I decided to try reading it. Thankfully, John Paul Stevens writing style and organization wasn't as dry and boring as I thought it would be. Sure, some sections seemed to drone on, but many times it was because I was not associated with the cases and legal terms described. It took me longer to read because I had to look up several law definitions, which could have been avoided if there was some kind of side-note for those of us without background in law studies. I liked the inclusion of the photos, comics, and the copy of the Constitution of the United States; they made the material a little bit more enjoyable. I am glad that it was written like more of a down-to-Earth conversation than a full-blown law textbook, minus those few definitions. It is obvious that John Paul Stevens is very passionate about what he wrote, and he definitely knows what he is talking about. The length was also desirable for a person who isn't a political studies or law major; I would have expected a much lengthier memoir for all that I learned he, and his colleagues, accomplished. Overall, I would recommend Five Chiefs if you are really interested in The Supreme Court and politics because it is filled with facts, stories, and gossip about many of the past Supreme Court Justices. Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5) *** I received this book from Little, Brown and Company, (Hachette Book Group), in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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