16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Inside the Court,
This review is from: The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (Hardcover)
We seem to have a view that the most interesting things to read about are those that are kept secret. As a result we have the Woodward industry which periodically tells us the inside story of work of people who are in the political limelight. Nine is such a book and has all the assets and liabilities of these sorts of books.
The main asset is that a great story is told, Whether is be the development of abortion jurisprudence or Bush v. Gore we see in the inside story. Toobin is an engaging writer so the story is well told and may even as reported.
The second asset is the portraits of the Justices. They tend to be brief but we see the justices as personalities. Each has their own quirks which make them interesting. I enjoyed the stories about Thomas and Breyer passing notes. Also the friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg shows that you can be agreeable even when you disagree.
Also the story of the concerted effort by conservatives to capture the court is fascinating, especially the role of groups who brought cases.
Now the liabilities. First and foremost because the book is based primarily on interviews one really does not know who is telling the story. Justice O'Connor who seems to be the strongest character in the book may well have given the insights herself. Without giving the source one has to be a bit concerned. After all often the history is written by the winner or in this case by the most available. In comparing this book to Linda Greenhouse's extraordinary biography of Justice Blackmum,which is fully documented, the difference is clear.
Second the book is light on understanding the legal developments. This is understandable as it is not the purpose of the book.
As a final point I suggest anyone interested Justice Thomas who I think is the most interesting person on the Court to read Supreme Discomfort which gives insights into his character. ( As I am writing this Thomas' autobiography is being published which may shed more light on him.)