Lengthier than FDR vs. the Constitution, by Burt Solomon (2009), an account of the 1937 political fracas between the president, the Supreme Court, and the Senate, Shesol’s history of the same episode expands with detail about the origin of Roosevelt’s proposal to reorganize the federal judiciary. It sprang from liberals’ infuriation with the conservative Court’s invalidation of some New Deal programs; Shesol’s quotations of New Dealers’ diaries well convey the incandescence of their fury. He also attends to Washington’s sociopolitical atmosphere, such as the Gridiron Dinner’s spoofs of the Supremes and FDR’s landslide reelection, which set the stage for Roosevelt’s hubristic moment. After providing background to FDR’s reform plan, which its opponents (and history) branded a court-packing scheme, Shesol continues with a narrative of the political battle that erupted. Characterizing defining traits of the main combatants—FDR, Chief Justice Charles Hughes, and Senator Burt Wheeler—Shesol skillfully illustrates the nexus of personality and principle, with the New Deal and the Constitution being perceived as at stake. A book sure to recruit history readers, especially those eyeing present political currents. --Gilbert Taylor
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“One of the most eloquent historians of his generation, Jeff Shesol has a deep understanding of the presidency, and the interplay of politics, personalities, and principles, all of which he brings to life in this rich, remarkable book.” (President Bill Clinton)