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The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court Paperback – March 1, 1990


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The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court + The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution (Stonesong Press Books)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140128107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140128109
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Irons is professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of five previous award-winning books. The most recent, A People's History of the Supreme Court, was awarded the Silver Gavel Certificate of Merit by the American Bar Association.


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was a fantastic book! People may know about some Supreme Court decisions and its impact but I do not think people understand why such important cases were brought before the Supreme Court. We never learn in school who these people were, (they are everyday people) and exactly how much courage and determination it takes to fight your case to the Supreme Court (after all I think S.C hears about 1% of all cases filed to the Court). Irons is an academic but boy you can read this in a day-this is not a dreaded book you are assigned to read for school.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Prof. Carl Schwarz on August 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have used this book three times in UC and CSU public law classes have taught: Intro to Judicial Process, Intro to Judicial Politics, and American Government. It is a personalized, almost biographical approach to leading constitutional rights cases, replete with the "human" as well as "legal" story behind each of the 16 cases. Though short on some of the important legal arguments at the Supreme Court level, it covers well the dispositons and judicial personalities of the lower courts. More importantly, however, it deals with the suffering and courage of the litigants themselves.
As such, it is a terrific book for both introductory American Government and judicial politics/process courses at the college level.
I have also used Irons' new book JIM CROW'S CHILDREN in my upper division course on Racial Equality and the U.S. Supreme Court at U.C., Irvine, just this summer.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Irons does of fine job of describing the uphill battle that a variety of individuals have faced in asserting their basic rights as Americans. Some of these cases righted grevious wrongs, and others are more open to debate. But then, the law is not a popularity contest. The fact that humble and even unpopular cases can nonetheless get their day in court, and get fair and due process, is something that every American should be proud of. It's something worth remembering and defending, something worth protecting, and Peter Irons shows you *why* in this book.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book speaks to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. It can give lawyers pause to think about the power they really have to change lives, and it gives non-lawyers an insightful, in-depth look into the American legal system at work. This book is a must-read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allison White on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was instructed to read The Courage of Their Convictions as a summer reading assignment for AP US Government. Usually, I dread reading summer assignments, but this book was written in a way that made the cases relatable and interesting. I appreciated the fact that it had first hand accounts of the major player in each of the suits, the person who was defending their freedoms as an American. It wasn't written in a complex way, the text had a good flow to it. I felt like I was getting a proper idea of how the Supreme Court actually runs, and overall it was a worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
Peter Irons exhibits his amazing skills of persuasive communication all throuout this book. For instance, he teaches us American History while at the same time making an indepth analysis of the Judicial System with Constitutional emphasis based on a number of true stories. Further, he does it with so much wit bringing those individuals' drama to life instead of what would usually be complicated Caselaw with boring facts and precedents.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By wlmcmullen on March 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I work at a University Library and see many, many books. This book caught my eye and I found myself compelled to read it. The situation in our government seems to leave many people I talk to feeling discouraged and powerless. Iron's book reminds us that we don't have to be powerless.
I encourage High School teachers to read the book and consider assigning at least parts of it to their students. Most Americans don't understand our legal system or the power we have as individuals to stand up for our civil rights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ardita on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have become an apathetic society. This book is the story of those who dared enough to care.
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