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Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You about America's Legendary Judges Paperback – March 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Secret Lives
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; First Printing edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594743088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594743085
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Schnakenberg is the author of several nonfiction books, including Secret Lives of Great Authors and Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults. He lives in Brooklyn.

More About the Author

Robert Schnakenberg has been called "the Howard Zinn of nerd pop culture." He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Old Man Drinks, Christopher Walken A-to-Z, Secret Lives of Great Authors, and The Encyclopedia Shatnerica--the world's first A-to-Z guide to the life and career of William Shatner. His work has appeared in Penthouse.

"Schnakenberg is the dark prince of American letters."--Jack Canfora, author of Jericho

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Anderson on February 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
In general, I love books like this. They typically take obscure figures from history and make them human. Some others in this genre I've liked include Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance and Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence.

I can't include this book among those unfortunately. It starts off surprisingly negative and snarky. Here are some examples:

- A crabby, slave-owning, anti-Catholic bigot [John Jay]
- A crook and a tool of the rich [James Wilson]
- [Trying to rehabilitate Roger Taney is] a bit like saying that apart from the Holocaust, Hitler was a swell guy
- An abrasive boor and virulent anti-Semite without an ounce of common decency [James Clark McReynolds]
- A blustering, imperious phony [Warren Burger]
- A physical oddity more suited for a Victorian-era specimen box [Ruth Bader Ginsburg]

Along those lines are the topics he deems fit to discuss. For example, Schnakenberg has a little blurb about Olive Wendell Holmes' purported impotency. Though he speculates that it resulted from being wounded in battle, that doesn't stop him from playing it up in a nudge-nudge, wink-wink style that seems positively embarrassing (to Schnakenberg):

Shooting Blanks

The "Yankee from Olympus" was no love god ... Holmes had a strictly platonic relationship with his wife, Fanny Dixwell Holmes. (Insert your salacious pun here.) ... problems "down below." ... Whether his flag was flying or not ...
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This is an amazingly funny and interesting book about the people who wear the robes. The funny stories and trivia facts keep you coming back for more! This would make a great gift for anyone who is interested in law!
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By doneliyahu on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices
The subtitle of what is basically another waste for downing hundreds of trees to form into a 288 page book is "What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices".
Of all the information (and conjecture) a teacher can offer his or her students about the justices of the US Supreme Court the kind offered in Mr Schnakenberg's goes under the heading 'Useless tidbits holding no particular value other than gossip and bathroom humor'.

After reading this tome does one get into the reasoning (or emotion) why this justice viewed a case one way or the other? No.
Does Mr Schnakenberg's 'fact' that Mr Justice Holmes "was impotent and had a strictly platonic relationship with his wife, Fanny [Dixwell Holmes]" (p. 41) give us insight behind one of the famous jurist's aphorisms, "If my country wants to go to Hell, I am here to help it" (p. 40) or what is behind "Leany" Holmes's distrust of the idea of equality ("I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy" (p. 46) , true as that might seem)? No.

I was gifted this little book because the donor knew me as a SCOTUS historian and thought it might add some levity to my heavy reading and study, but whilst taking a couple of hours out to lick through these pages I noticed the information provided nothing to my knowledge of these justices. [Just after this brief 'review' my copy will be donated to a local charity's flea-market efforts, with the approval of its original donor.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KYLE VONDAL GRAVLEE on May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
INTERESTING LIVES OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND THEIR WIDELY DIVERSE PERSONALITY! WHILE BEING HUMAN WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT IDIOSYNCRACIES ALL OF THEM TRIED TO LEAN TOWARD JUSTICE.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By kelly kayle-gallon on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
All of Schnackenberg's accounts of the justices are unique and enjoyable. This eccectic crew was quite interesting to read about.
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