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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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"Schnakenberg is the clown prince of American letters!"
--Jack Canfora, playwright, author of Jericho
Top Customer Reviews
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):
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 ...Read more ›
What's more, I had to return this book twice, the second time for a refund instead of a replacement -- the cover kept coming detached/unglued from the book. I am a careful reader, persnickety even about not cracking the spines on paperbacks, so this was not rough handling but poor manufacturing, which is obviously a knock on the publisher/printer, not the author, but still annoying and something that has never happened to be before (I own at least 1,000 paperbacks).
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All of Schnackenberg's accounts of the justices are unique and enjoyable. This eccectic crew was quite interesting to read about.Published on March 28, 2013 by kkg
This book reminds me of a Hedda Hopper gossip column a study in duplicity and character assassination designed to spread muck and tripe.Published on April 19, 2012 by Nathan Joseph Zimmermann
As others have said the binding on the book leaves a lot to be desired. It's not a book that I would buy for the list price of $17.99. Read morePublished on November 17, 2011 by Samantha L. Sayre
This book literally fell apart the first time I read it. The binding is weak, which more or less made this a book I could only read once. Read morePublished on June 25, 2011 by Melissa Bullock