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The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court Paperback – July 1, 2005
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-- Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Fascinating. The pace is swift, with details that rivet the attention."
-- The Washington Post Book World
"A provocative book about a hallowed institution...It is the most comprehensive inside story ever written of the most important court in the world. For this reason alone it is required reading."
"It is to the credit of Woodward and Armstrong that they were willing -- and able -- to shatter this conspiracy of silence. It is certainly in the highest tradition of investigative journalism."
-- Saturday Review
"One hell of a reporting achievement."
-- The Village Voice
"The year's best political book."
-- New York Post
About the Author
Scott Armstrong is executive director of the Information Trust. A former reporter for The Washington Post, he founded the National Security Archive and was a senior investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee.
Top Customer Reviews
"The Brethren" gave the Burger Court a reputation from which it never quite recovered. Although the Supreme Court has historically had its share of in-fighting, incompetence, and inanity, its internal meltdowns in the 1970s were occasionally beyond the pale. Woodward and Armstrong portray Burger as a well-meaning but ultimately misguided man obsessed by the legacy of Earl Warren, concerned far more with image than with principle, unskilled in management techniques that would have helped bring the Court to a consensus, and unashamed of his repeated attempts to assign the Court's decisions in a fashion insured to thwart the will of the majority. Even today, most historians, regardless of ideological bent, view the Burger years as a mediocre and often inconsistent transition between the liberal Warren Court and the conservative Rehnquist Court.
It's not a perfect book, by any means. Woodward and Armstrong are at their page-turning best when they examine in detail some of the more famous decisions and controversies faced by the Court (busing, obscenity, abortion, the death penalty, and--especially--Watergate).Read more ›
"It is not an easy reading."
To those who do not have trouble reading the newspaper, it will be extremely easy reading. In fact, it is written in such a clear style, with short, to-the-point sentences, as to be among the easiest books I have ever read.
"The secretive world of the court would be difficult for any journalist to penetrate, and here Woodward and his cohort Armstrong prove themselves not to be up to the task."
Whoever wrote this obviously had not come of age when the book was published. The publication of "The Brethren" ranks as probably the most scandalous moment in the history of the Supreme Court, because no one to that date had even come close to gaining the insider access that Woodward and Armstrong did-- and no journalist has gotten this close to the Court since. This is an utterly glib and untrue comment. As close as is humanly possible, Woodward and Armstrong penetrated the Court.
"'The Brethren' is, more than any book I've ever read, a product of its times. It reflects the anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-Nixon, pro-activist, and downright revolutionary times of the early 1970s. If you choose to read "The Brethren," you should understand that it takes positions as being either right or wrong. And with political powder kegs (abortion, busing, the Watergate tapes, the death penalty, etc.Read more ›
The Brethren attempts to present the reader with what "really" goes on in the Supreme Court. It describes the conferences, the personality of justices, and how justice's feel toward each other, items which are generally hidden from the public. Covering the terms from 1969-1975, Woodward and Armstrong gives us a look at the fourteen justices and how they dealt with the major issues facing the court. The book describes how Burger changed his conference votes so he could assign the majority opinion of the court, angering William Douglas and William Brennen. He also describes how Thurgood Marshall greeted Burger "Hey chiefy baby", getting a kick out of making him feel uncomfortable. The reader sees how Harry Blackmun agonized at being considered Burger's "boy" which eventually led to his breaking away from the conservative wing of the court. Woodward also tells of the lack of respect the justices had for the abilities of Chief Justice Burger, who wrote poorly reasoned opinions that embarrassed some members of the court.
The main thesis of the book is how the moderates control the opinions of the court. A majority opinion must have the vote of at least five members of the court, therefore the opinion becomes a compromise between the author of the opinion and his joining brethren. Even when an ideologue writes an opinion, his opinion must be amended to maintain the votes of his brethren.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Horrible book. Nothing links up. Also makes you sick to see how liberal and essentric these Supreme Court judges were and how their essentricities have twisted the constitution.Published 1 day ago by Rob C.
Loved this book! It's totally riveting, and with everything going on with the court today, this helped me get a better understanding.Published 4 months ago by Kip
The scope of this book made me wonder if it would be too dry or gloss over the Brethren. The authors structured a great balance,that read like a novel. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
I have previously read "The Nine" and "The Oath." "The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court" does not come close to being com;parable in quality. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Charles E. Speaks
An eye opening look behind the vale. The personalities of the justices are clearly defined with their individual warts and halos exposed. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jim Hagey