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Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court Hardcover – March 22, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 72 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


"Supreme Power is by far the most detailed―and most riveting―account of this extraordinary event.... an impressive and engaging book―an excellent work of narrative history. It is deeply researched and beautifully written."
The New York Times Book Review

"Starred Review. With insight and more than occasional humor, Shesol covers all aspects of the controversy, deftly explaining the issues at stake in a variety of legal opinions and shrewdly analyzing the intra-Court dynamics."
Kirkus Reviews

"[T]imely, for the light it casts on the politics of our current economic situation and on the situation itself. The book is also splendid to read. It will fascinate anyone who is interested in Roosevelt, the New Deal, the 1930s, Congress, the presidency, the Great Depression, judges, the Supreme Court, or constitutional law."
The New Republic

"Once in a generation a groundbreaking book comes along to provide a major reinterpretation of a familiar historical event. Shesol tells the story of FDR's court packing plan as it has never been told before. This is a stunning work of history."
Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time and Team of Rivals

"Written with a novelist's eye, a historian's care, and a blogger's energy, Jeff Shesol's Supreme Power is a fascinating reconstruction of one of the great political and legal battles of the twentieth century. The story of FDR's court-packing plan is a citizen's education in the twenty-first."
Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine

"Supreme Power is an extraordinary book that rings with relevance for our time. 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. Full of surprises and new insights―each rendered in clear and confident prose – this book is about more than FDR’s plan to pack the Court. It’s about America’s enduring struggle to reconcile our founders’ ideals with conflicting challenges in our constant pursuit to build a more perfect union."
President Bill Clinton

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 22, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 656 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0393064743
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0393064742
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.35 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 72 ratings

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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