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A comprehensive history of the people and cases that have changed history, this is the definitive account of the nation's highest court Recent changes in the Supreme Court have placed the venerable institution at the forefront of current affairs, making this comprehensive and engaging work as timely as ever. In the tradition of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of th A comprehensive history of the people and cases that have changed history, this is the definitive account of the nation's highest court Recent changes in the Supreme Court have placed the venerable institution at the forefront of current affairs, making this comprehensive and engaging work as timely as ever. In the tradition of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States, Peter Irons chronicles the decisions that have influenced virtually every aspect of our society, from the debates over judicial power to controversial rulings in the past regarding slavery, racial segregation, and abortion, as well as more current cases about school prayer, the Bush/Gore election results, and "enemy combatants." To understand key issues facing the supreme court and the current battle for the court's ideological makeup, there is no better guide than Peter Irons. This revised and updated edition includes a foreword by Howard Zinn.


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A comprehensive history of the people and cases that have changed history, this is the definitive account of the nation's highest court Recent changes in the Supreme Court have placed the venerable institution at the forefront of current affairs, making this comprehensive and engaging work as timely as ever. In the tradition of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of th A comprehensive history of the people and cases that have changed history, this is the definitive account of the nation's highest court Recent changes in the Supreme Court have placed the venerable institution at the forefront of current affairs, making this comprehensive and engaging work as timely as ever. In the tradition of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States, Peter Irons chronicles the decisions that have influenced virtually every aspect of our society, from the debates over judicial power to controversial rulings in the past regarding slavery, racial segregation, and abortion, as well as more current cases about school prayer, the Bush/Gore election results, and "enemy combatants." To understand key issues facing the supreme court and the current battle for the court's ideological makeup, there is no better guide than Peter Irons. This revised and updated edition includes a foreword by Howard Zinn.

30 review for A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Long a fan of learning more about constitutional law, I discovered this major work by Peter Irons. In it, Irons seeks not only to take the reader through some of the key historical aspects of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but also shed light on some of those who shaped the Court or were named in key cases throughout the storied history of the institution. Admitting in his introduction that he comes about this project with an inherent bias, Irons cautions the reader beforehand Long a fan of learning more about constitutional law, I discovered this major work by Peter Irons. In it, Irons seeks not only to take the reader through some of the key historical aspects of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but also shed light on some of those who shaped the Court or were named in key cases throughout the storied history of the institution. Admitting in his introduction that he comes about this project with an inherent bias, Irons cautions the reader beforehand about what he will present, trying to be thorough but also realising there is limited space. In the early part of the tome, Irons lays the groundwork for the Court by focussing his attention on the Republic and how it chose to craft its political foundation. In discussing the roles of various Founding Fathers, Irons details the fights to bring forth a strong constitutional document, as well as key set of amendments to the initial work product, in the form of a Bill of Rights. From there, it was the creation of a Supreme Court, which would sit and adjudicate the laws of the land, based on this core constitutional framework. While the early years proved slow and free from too many cases, key decisions came down from the Court that would forever shape the future of the country and its relationship with the other cogs in the political machine. With strong members of the Court, Irons argues that much could be done, though it was by no means a rubber stamping of decisions. Moving into the era of slavery, where newer states in the Union sought to be ‘free’, the Court was forced to decide on key aspects of the practice, as well as how to define men of colour, particularly as citizens of the United States. Irons takes time here to discuss the fallibility of the Court, especially when handling such cases as Dred Scott. This mark on the Court will forever be seen, though the progress of thoughts and sentiments around racial equality did not come overnight. Irons progresses through many cases of this kind through to the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th before turning to the theme of free speech, which emerged in the lead-up to the Great War. As Irons discusses, those speaking out against the War, particularly conscription, found their niche in challenging laws that violated the First Amendment. Phrases such as “announcing fire in a crowded theatre” became popular during Court decisions of this time. Irons continues delving into Court-based themes by exploring economic decisions surrounding the New Deal, FDR’s multi-pillared way of getting out from under the Depression in the early 1930s. Irons finds numerous cases that push the limits of this and FDR’s response to SCOTUS politicking from the bench. This was by no means the end to all the legal and constitutional controversies seen in the United States. Flares ups related to Japanese internment, racial segregation, and abortion proved to be key cases that pushed the Court to its limits, pressuring the ideological sentiments of those who heard cases. Irons addresses this over the three decades in the book’s narrative that covers this time. The Court’s ever-evolving views can be significantly contributed to the changes of Justices on the Court. Irons shows how, during the Nixon and Reagan Administrations, faces less liberal in their views emerged, pushing some major issues into the unknown. Thus began some of the most troubling times for those who held onto the liberal judgments made by the Court in years past. Pushing through to the appointment of Samuel Alito, Irons exemplifies how the Court changed a few more times, under both Bushes and Clinton in the Oval Office. A truly remarkable piece that is a must-read for those with a passion for American constitutional law and politics. Recommended for the dedicated and determined reader who feels they can tackle this massive tome, as well as anyone wanting to see American history through new and liberal eyes. While I have read many books on SCOTUS and its countless decisions, this book by Peter Irons is definitely unique. Shaped around his academic mentor, Howard Zinn, Irons seeks to replicate A People’s History of the United States—next on my reading list—which takes snapshots in time and expounds on some of the lesser known facts and players in the larger picture. Irons does well to give the reader more background and a thorough understanding of the machinery running around the case, rather than the large generalizations that history texts usual offer. Irons has done much research to give the reader a closer look into the lives of the Court’s many Justices, as well as biographical notes that help place their ascension to the Court in context. While this is greatly helpful, it pales in comparisons to the background offered about some of the key players in the cases, those whose actions or challenges to laws brought about the key cases that shaped American understanding of its constitutional document through the eyes of SCOTUS. This brings the vignettes to life and offers a new perspective for the curious reader, who can then read even more, should they desire. Anyone with an interest in constitutional law and history will marvel at the detail and how these pieces fit together nicely to tell the larger and more comprehensive story of the cases that shaped the nation. Irons mixes things up with longer chapters to tell of key aspects of Court decisions, alongside shorter ones that may lead the reader down a certain path. The overall effect is not lost on the attentive reader, as the narrative seeks to forge ahead through American political and legal history, following the breadcrumbs SCOTUS finds in the US Constitution. While the reading can sometimes be dense, the meatier parts are surely needed to lay the groundwork for later chapters and extrapolation by the keen reader who seek to apply things after the 2006 publication of this tome. In today’s America, one can only hope that precedent is not tossed by the wayside to bring about an ideological reset for those on the far Right. One can only wonder what Irons would have to say about some of the quagmires taking place in 21st century American legal realms. Then again, perhaps something is in the works to trump the #fakeTweet rhetoric raining down on smartphones across the land. Kudos, Mr. Irons, for opening my eyes to much about the American political and constitutional history that has been delivered in my expansive education and personal reading. I will be returning to read more of your work, but first think it is time for Howard Zinn’s tome, which helped germinate the idea for this book. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Desrosiers

    This groovy and jargon-free narrative is both more and less than the title suggests. "People's history" now indicates an openly ideological effort to recast "history" with sociology, underground martyrs, tragedies, and a general attempt to foreground the voiceless, plus ignore the "Great Men" except when they're bastards. This was Howard Zinn's messy specialty, and his foreword here is a benediction. But Irons doesn't wander into the Zinn muck very much: the Great Men (and Women) are very much w This groovy and jargon-free narrative is both more and less than the title suggests. "People's history" now indicates an openly ideological effort to recast "history" with sociology, underground martyrs, tragedies, and a general attempt to foreground the voiceless, plus ignore the "Great Men" except when they're bastards. This was Howard Zinn's messy specialty, and his foreword here is a benediction. But Irons doesn't wander into the Zinn muck very much: the Great Men (and Women) are very much with us here, albeit cut down to size. And though Irons gives some exciting narrative background to cases like Dred Scott and Gobitis, plus paints new portraits of the great Justices at work, on the whole I read this as more of a "popular history" -- i.e. a Supreme Court history stripped of mystery and legalese, with a bit of human frailty and excitement added in. Some of the reviewers here were put off by the lengthy account of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 -- 115 days of argument in eighty pages here. But I was riveted, and I think Irons's purpose is clear: the United States Constitution was not holy writ created by a meeting of brilliant minds, but the product of prejudice, compromise, experiment, short tempers, and windows shut against spies in mid-summer heat. Irons gives the lie to "strict constructionists" who ignore the social context and bitter debates -- not just in Philadelphia but in twelve state legislatures -- that got this cool but obviously Frankenstein-shaped document passed. Barely. The rest of the book is a very selective history of the Court (our least democratic institution) as it shaped and got reshaped by a bitter, global, and bloody historical trajectory. One thing you'll notice -- and Irons takes pains to point this out at every turn -- is that most Supreme Court justices were mediocrities, dimwits, or worse. Hell even the position of CHIEF JUSTICE has often been filled by blinkered ideologues and political hacks. Dred Scott was not just an institution shooting itself in the foot, but let's face it, a wizened Southern aristocrat using his limited brainspace to arbitrate the future of our country. Similar idiotic results obtain in Plessy vs. Ferguson and Korematsu among many others. But Irons properly exalts the heroes of the story, including John Marshall, John Marshall Harlan, Brandeis, Frank Murphy, Earl Warren, William Brennan, hell even Thurgood Marshall (whose epic strategery for the NAACP far overshadowed his work as a Justice). Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. comes in for a bit of criticism as an elitist on several fronts, though it's hard to deny his writing and ability to keep the Court among America's respected institutions during rough times. Earl Warren is a fascinating mystery -- a conservative family-values Republican from California now widely perceived as the most liberal Chief Justice ever. Conversely, Antonin Scalia is revealed as a snarky and bitterly ideological justice whose pen gets dipped in Bible blood when homosexuality hits the docket. Fascinating to see justices grappling with their own ideology and this immutable (ha!) document to figure out crazy cases, and when the dodgy "right to privacy" came out the box in the sixties, well -- all hell breaks loose. And that continues today. Irons does put together a compelling picture of strange times and strange cases, involving rightous grievants and grumbly, witty, twitchy justices -- hell I kinda think an illustrated version of this would become a bestseller. But he fails at the end, where he considers the contemporary (2005) Court. Bush v. Gore, where the Court essentially re-enacted Dred Scott and pissed a political decision into the air that had nothing to do with the Constitution -- gets a bland recounting without any fire of ideology whatsoever. And he seems all too careful in his assessment of Roberts and Alito... whereupon the book ends, abruptly, with no postscript or any effort to look back and bring these scores of morons and occasional geniuses into perspective as a part of American life and history. That omission forces me to omit a star. Well worth reading though...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Justin Lee

    For those with an interest in the Supreme Court, this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its tone, and the history behind the cases it writes about. Most probably know Plessy v Ferguson or Brown v Board of Education but most might not know the backstory to these and other cases that come across the SCOTUS. Mr. Irons does not hide his bias and you can clearly tell which side of the spectrum he falls. I found this refreshing. He was blatant about it, but he was informed. You can te For those with an interest in the Supreme Court, this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its tone, and the history behind the cases it writes about. Most probably know Plessy v Ferguson or Brown v Board of Education but most might not know the backstory to these and other cases that come across the SCOTUS. Mr. Irons does not hide his bias and you can clearly tell which side of the spectrum he falls. I found this refreshing. He was blatant about it, but he was informed. You can tell how he came across his opinion and I don't fault him that. I didn't feel like he was forcing his point of view on the reader, but rather, guiding the reader. It never seemed overbearing to me. One of the interesting things about this book is that you can see what women, african americans, glbt, asian people have had to go through to get where we are today. He makes you feel what it would be like to be living in those eras and having these events take place. Most of the times, it makes me glad I'm living in the early 21st Century and not earlier. A fascinating current that runs through the book, amidst the cases, is the reader gets little tidbits of information on the Presidents' choices of the justices and the reader gets exposed the discussion of the judicial philosophies of the justices that left a legacy. This, to me, was my favorite part. With so many types of cases that the SCOTUS has heard, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of environmental cases discussed- mainly none. Otherwise, this book is a great introduction to the world of the Supreme Court. I can understand why law students don't enjoy Constitutional Law

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution, Peter Irons, 1999. Pre-Civil-War decisions such as Dred Scott helped make the Civil War necessary, by refusing to impose judicial limits, nor even honor political limits, to slavery. Post-Civil-War decisions consistently helped make the Civil War meaningless by refusing to enforce blacks' rights to life and citizenship. The first chief justice, John Jay, felt that, "Those who own th A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution, Peter Irons, 1999. Pre-Civil-War decisions such as Dred Scott helped make the Civil War necessary, by refusing to impose judicial limits, nor even honor political limits, to slavery. Post-Civil-War decisions consistently helped make the Civil War meaningless by refusing to enforce blacks' rights to life and citizenship. The first chief justice, John Jay, felt that, "Those who own the country ought to govern it." Judges furthered the interests of the social and financial elite. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 adopted the Constitution largely because it would increase their own personal wealth in public securities, land speculation, mercantile, manufacturing and shipping businesses, and ownership of slaves. The Constitution was a victory for slavery, aristocracy, and elitism. The Massachusetts Bay Colony /Body of Liberties/, 1641, said, "Every person shall enjoy the same justice and law." That is, every person except not religious dissenters, women, African slaves, and Indians. Some of Peter Irons' points, in trivia question form: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work...

  5. 4 out of 5

    India M. Clamp

    Reading "A People's History of the Supreme Court" by Peter Irons was neither prosaic or an unloved thing in my hands, and instead it became a companion on my red leather seats traveling from San Diego to Orange County then to Los Angeles. In addition it was a "prop" of wisdom during interviews of many shining stars. The Supreme Court at its very mention is something that silences people just as readings from a bible or holy illuminated text. This book was a sheer page turning sensation by Peter I Reading "A People's History of the Supreme Court" by Peter Irons was neither prosaic or an unloved thing in my hands, and instead it became a companion on my red leather seats traveling from San Diego to Orange County then to Los Angeles. In addition it was a "prop" of wisdom during interviews of many shining stars. The Supreme Court at its very mention is something that silences people just as readings from a bible or holy illuminated text. This book was a sheer page turning sensation by Peter Irons (Supreme Court maven and Professor of Political Science at University of California San Diego). After reading I posses a conflagration for our legal system as we dance through pages with Louis Brandeis, John Marshall and Earl Warren and how their rulings are a part of the Supreme Court and are standing today as a silent constitutional sentinel over America.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    This 500+ page legal history was a long slog, but worth it. I learned so much, I feel ready to take the LSATs. It was especially cool to have finished it on the very day that the Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act. As you’ll see by my status updates, that’s not the result I predicted. I read this book to supplement what I’m learning in paralegal school. With a title like A People’s History of the Supreme Court, I figured it would be more readable than legal opinions and textbooks because This 500+ page legal history was a long slog, but worth it. I learned so much, I feel ready to take the LSATs. It was especially cool to have finished it on the very day that the Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act. As you’ll see by my status updates, that’s not the result I predicted. I read this book to supplement what I’m learning in paralegal school. With a title like A People’s History of the Supreme Court, I figured it would be more readable than legal opinions and textbooks because 1) “People’s history” made me think it was written for the layperson and 2) The subtitle, The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decision Shaped Our Constitution , made me think it told the human story behind the Court. Sometimes, both assumptions were proven correct. Sometimes, though, the book was as dull as any legal opinion or textbook. As another GR reviewer put it, “My law school texts have more razzle dazzle than this.” Because it was such a long slog, I began doing status updates to keep myself going. I was tracking my milestones. And now that I’ve gotten to the end of the book, it seems like ages ago that I was reading the initial chapters about the framing of the Constitution. So I think the best way for me to review the book is to list all my status updates in chronological order. As you’ll see, the book really was a review of American history. I highly recommend it, but watch the PBS documentary on the Supreme Court first. It’s a pleasant and easy way to get some of the background that this book will fill out in greater detail. May 24, p. 66 - I'm up to the framing of the Constitution, and boy was the 3/5 compromise disgusting! The small Southern states wanted the slaves to count toward the population, but wouldn't count them as humans when it came to legal rights. Those are the seeds of the Civil War right there. And all the arguments! It's almost like today, except that now, nobody compromises. May 29, p. 111 - I'm finally done with the framing of the Constitution and up to the Marshall court! But I'm very glad I saw the Supreme Court documentary TV series. I couldn't get through this book without that background. May 30, p. 126 - Finished McColloch v. Maryland, which created the Federal Reserve and asserted the "elastic clause" of the Constitution. On to Dartmouth v. Woodword. May 31, p. 142 - I've finished with the Marshall court, and now I no longer lionize as much as I did. Marbury and McColloch were great decisions, but he often ruled in favor of property rights. As the author states, a man of Marshall's position who surely wasn't afraid to wield his authority might have done more to end slavery. He had the chance in "The Antelope" case. June 1, p. 162 - I'm up to the Dred Scott case, which is so far the fastest reading of the whole book. This author was a civil rights activist, so slavery is getting special focus. I feel like such an ignoramus. I never knew about the Amistad - now I've got to read up on it! June 4, p. 190 - The Civil War is over, and Lincoln is dead. You know, I saw that film, "The Confederate States of America," and I remember it singling out Judah Benjamin for inventing the legal concept that slaves were property not people, but it's much older than him, and Chief Justice Taney, who wrote the opinion in Dred Scott, seems just as bad if not worse. June 6, p. 208 - I'm happy to have passed the 200 mark, but American history just gets worse and worse. It's post-Civil War, the Klan is waging terror in the South, and Cruikshanks, a Klansman, literally got away with murder because of the ruling of the Supreme Court. Outrageous! June 7, p. 228 - I'm up to Plessy v. Ferguson now, but in fact, there were several Civil Rights cases that preceded it. In one, the case of a black woman on a train between states, Justice Harlan wrote that keeping her in a segregated car was an interference of interstate commerce, the defense ultimately used in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It only took 100 years! (More comments coming soon.) June 7, p. 230 - Justice Harlan wrote the dissent in Plessy, for which he is celebrated in history, but the author compares him to Lincoln. Both men fought for the legal rights of blacks, but still saw them as inferior. Also, another discrimination case, Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, should have served as precedent to defeat Plessy, but it's a case largely forgotten today. June 15, p. 306 - I've gotten through the tenure of Oliver Wendell Holmes, the justice I wanted to learn about most. Unfortunately, it turns out he had clay feet. I didn't realize the "falsely yelling fire in a theater" example was his. But the case he applied it to was a protestor of WW I, arguable if it really applied. I also read about the Schecter brothers' case, involving kosher butchers. Shameful! June 17, p. 347 - Finished with the J- Witness cases, which got a fair amount of details since the author was able to interview Lillian Gobitas, whose refusal to pledge allegiance to the flag became so famous. Ironically, the first J Witness to do that was in Hitler's Germany, and then the people of that religion began doing it as a whole, refusing to pledge allegiance to any national symbol. June 18, p. 362 - Read about how the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. After all this, I guess I shouldn't be surprised if they strike down the Affordable Health Care Act. After all, this is the age of Citizens United. June 21, p. 381 - I've read Thurgood Marshall's pre-Brown strategy, ie deal with higher education and housing cases first, and now I'm in an interlude about the Red Scare. Boy, will I celebrate when I reach page 400! June 21, p. 396 - I said I'd celebrate at p. 400, but I'm not quite there. Meanwhile, I'm reading Brown and the school cases that went with it. It's the fastest reading of the whole book; you can tell that this is the part that the author is really excited about. Part of their argument was based on self-esteem. They gave black kids brown-skinned and pink-skinned dolls and asked, "Which is the nice one?" Most kids chose white. June 24, p. 420 - Read about the throngs of people, mostly blacks, who turned out for Chief Justice Earl Warren's funeral in 1974. Brown v. Board of Ed was the best decision the Court ever made. I wonder what they'll do with health care. My hopes aren't high. June 28, p. 460 - Justice Harry Blackmun is most famous for writing the Roe v. Wade opinion, but I like what he said on Bakke, a challenge to affirmative action: "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. In order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently. We cannot - we dare not - let the 14th Amendment perpetuate racial supremacy."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Evan Aanerud

    Where’s my participation ribbon for finishing this? The forward by Howard Zinn foreshadows a gripping, dramatic read—do not be misled—heavy, clerical reading is ahead. Peter Irons makes it clear at the outset: he believes the Constitution is a breathing document that should follow social change. The book is strongest when Irons takes a moment to reflect on the structural inequalities that Supreme Court justices have perpetuated. He adopts a “no excuses” mentality towards notable figures, such as Where’s my participation ribbon for finishing this? The forward by Howard Zinn foreshadows a gripping, dramatic read—do not be misled—heavy, clerical reading is ahead. Peter Irons makes it clear at the outset: he believes the Constitution is a breathing document that should follow social change. The book is strongest when Irons takes a moment to reflect on the structural inequalities that Supreme Court justices have perpetuated. He adopts a “no excuses” mentality towards notable figures, such as Chief Justice John Marshall, by calling them out for their neutrality in civil rights cases that had damaging consequences for marginalized communities. Some chapters were dry (contract cases, estate and property law cases) but his sociological perspective on precedent, judicial nominations, and the country’s changing political landscape made it well worth the read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ted Hunt

    This book is a very dense, informative history of the Court, filled with details of the backgrounds of the Justices and the cases under consideration. The title "The People's History of the Supreme Court" conveys the author's slant on the workings of the Court (its foreword is written by the author's mentor, Howard Zinn, so there's no mystery about his approach). Irons believes that the Court's mission has always been to protect "liberty and justice for all," although it has often come up short. This book is a very dense, informative history of the Court, filled with details of the backgrounds of the Justices and the cases under consideration. The title "The People's History of the Supreme Court" conveys the author's slant on the workings of the Court (its foreword is written by the author's mentor, Howard Zinn, so there's no mystery about his approach). Irons believes that the Court's mission has always been to protect "liberty and justice for all," although it has often come up short. Like Zinn's "People's History of the U.S.," the focus is on the destinies of slaves, workers, women, etc. I'm not sure how Irons can believe that the Court in the early history of the republic would have done anything but defend property rights, as this was one of, if not the key issue of the American Revolution. It bothered me a little that he couched his objections to the Marshall Court in the way that it interfered in state business. That did not seem to be an issue for the author when the Warren Court was overturning state Jim Crow laws. My biggest complaint, however, was that the book contained a number of historical errors. Marshall's tenure ended in 1835, not 1833, the "Jay Treaty of 1783" is called the Treaty of Paris(!), the Battle of Antietam was a Union victory (hence the Emancipation Proclamation), the Sunday School bombing in Birmingham was in 1963, not 1964, and the Federalists did NOT simply become the Whigs (and they did not simply become the Republicans). There were other errors as well, which left me wondering if he got all the facts of the court cases correct. In any event, I guess the overriding message of the book is that the Supreme Court, which was designed to be "above" politics, has always been a political body, reflecting the views of its members, as well as popular opinion on the issues of the day.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    Unlike Zinn's similarly-named book, this one is cogently argued. By "the people" Irons means not a single, monolithic demographic ("the oppressed"), but humans, folks, regular fellows. Each chapter contains a summary of an important event in the history of the Court and its decisions, the difference being that we get biographical detail on Dred Scott and Marbury rather than just the usual, dry narrative of administration. The chapters on the origins of the Constitution and Supreme Court, though, Unlike Zinn's similarly-named book, this one is cogently argued. By "the people" Irons means not a single, monolithic demographic ("the oppressed"), but humans, folks, regular fellows. Each chapter contains a summary of an important event in the history of the Court and its decisions, the difference being that we get biographical detail on Dred Scott and Marbury rather than just the usual, dry narrative of administration. The chapters on the origins of the Constitution and Supreme Court, though, are worth the price of the book by themselves. Drawing on Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention (pretty indigestible by themselves), Irons' sketchwork is compelling and imbues Elbridge Gerry and other, more obscure conventioneers with more personality and individuality than one usually sees in other books. Altogether, Irons did an admirable job; my only real problem is that he sometimes chose the obvious civil rights cases (Dred Scott; Brown v. Board) instead of the less juicy but equally consequential. I would have wanted to read more about Lochner v. New York, the evolution of Indian law from Marshall onward, and the period between the Civil War and the robber barons which for some reason often gets overlooked in books like these written by leftists (despite having given us the separation of church and state, the temperance movement, frontier justice, and lots of other interesting legal dilemmas).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abhi Gupte

    Peter Irons starts the book by making a full admission of his ideological leanings and his interpretation of the Constitution through the lens of that ideology. While in most books I find ideologically driven narration off-putting; in this one, I came to admire Dr. Irons' passion for the US Constitution and his reasons for holding it sacrosanct. This is such a great book to understand the tectonic movements of US history. The different cases prove that while many things have changed in our histor Peter Irons starts the book by making a full admission of his ideological leanings and his interpretation of the Constitution through the lens of that ideology. While in most books I find ideologically driven narration off-putting; in this one, I came to admire Dr. Irons' passion for the US Constitution and his reasons for holding it sacrosanct. This is such a great book to understand the tectonic movements of US history. The different cases prove that while many things have changed in our history, many have not. It was very enlightening to read about cases whose lessons can still be applied today. My favorite was the case of Jehovah's Witnesses in the mid-20th century. Discrimination against minorities was as much an issue then as it is today. The groups of people who are subject to discrimination change over time; but the principles of fighting against discrimination remain the same.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    To begin with this book was not what I expected or hoped to find. Truth is that it turned out to be something better. Based on its title and description I was hoping to get a book that would tell the story of the real people whose names make up the captions in the landmark cases of the SCOTUS. The book did indeed give me some of the back story for many of these cases and it gave me a whole lot more that I wasn't expecting. I do not know how he did it but the author was able to fill in a lot of b To begin with this book was not what I expected or hoped to find. Truth is that it turned out to be something better. Based on its title and description I was hoping to get a book that would tell the story of the real people whose names make up the captions in the landmark cases of the SCOTUS. The book did indeed give me some of the back story for many of these cases and it gave me a whole lot more that I wasn't expecting. I do not know how he did it but the author was able to fill in a lot of background on the justices, who appointed them, why they were appointed and how. It even managed to some how pierce the secrecy SCOTUS is known for to reveal how the voting on many of these important cases was managed and manipulated. I found the book fascinating as a review of the history of our country through the evolution of SCOTUS decisions. This is a somewhat long book and definitely not for the casual reader. In fact, if I have a criticism it is the inclusion at the beginning of a history of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. I cannot imagine anybody wanting to read this book that isn't already sufficiently aware of that history. It was unnecessary. If the author felt that some case needed historical illumination from the convention then a couple of paragraphs when needed could have been added here and there. Another criticism or actually a disappointment is that the book ends during the Clinton administration in 1992 over 20 years ago. Hopefully, the author will update this very enjoyable treatment of the history of the Supreme Court before too long. On the whole I found this book more enlightening than any Con Law class I took in law school.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    My recommendation - find another book to read. This is pretty much a waste of time. I was thinking about giving it two stars for historical content, but that content is so biased that I can't bring myself to do it. First, this is not an impartial book, documenting the Court. Rather it contains a discussion of a number of cases, apparently selected to convince the reader that the author's convictions with respect to the meaning of the Constitution and where our legal system should be headed are cor My recommendation - find another book to read. This is pretty much a waste of time. I was thinking about giving it two stars for historical content, but that content is so biased that I can't bring myself to do it. First, this is not an impartial book, documenting the Court. Rather it contains a discussion of a number of cases, apparently selected to convince the reader that the author's convictions with respect to the meaning of the Constitution and where our legal system should be headed are correct. The author's writing style emphasizes his points, while demeaning others; I was reminded of a statement supposedly in a military base newspaper describing a sports contest by saying that, while the enlisted team had come in second, the officers' team was next to last (the article was describing the results of a single ball game in which the officers' team was the winner). When a decision made by the Court agrees with the author's principles but the opinion leaves out something of importance, its presence is implied. When a decision made by the Court is not in agreement with the author's principles and doesn't mention something, it's because the Court chose to ignore it. The author uses inflammatory words to describe positions to which he is opposed, but much less controversial ones in describing situations to his liking, including the words he uses to describe split (usually 5-4) decisions. To his credit, he does state his position clearly at the start of the book in the introduction, so readers who look at the introduction will be forewarned. For a lawyer, the proofreading in this book is horrendous. Names are spelled differently on the same page (I'm not referring to errors in court records here). Capitalization is incorrect throughout the book. Punctuation is worse than capitalization. There are sentences where the wording is so poor (I suspect because of spelling errors) that I could not puzzle out the meaning. Lest anyone believe that this is due to spell-check, some of the spelling errors do not constitute words found in a dictionary of the English language.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    There is a lot to like in this book. I enjoyed the opening sections on the Constitution and the Constitutional Convention. The early history of the Supreme Court was also interesting. The cases that were chosen by Irons were important and often pivotal. The background of the cases was helpful and interesting. Often the legal jargon presented in the case was a little difficult, but still mostly readable. This book was really long though, and often text-book like (as one would expect). Irons make There is a lot to like in this book. I enjoyed the opening sections on the Constitution and the Constitutional Convention. The early history of the Supreme Court was also interesting. The cases that were chosen by Irons were important and often pivotal. The background of the cases was helpful and interesting. Often the legal jargon presented in the case was a little difficult, but still mostly readable. This book was really long though, and often text-book like (as one would expect). Irons make no effort to disguise his bias in the selection of the cases he talks about and in the way he presents them. On a side note, the kindle version of this book is rubbish! So many misspelled words, periods in the middle of sentences, capitalization errors. Didn’t anyone edit this?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Richmiller

    This book was an excellent read. Peter Irons goes into great detail about the people that shaped the U.S. Constitution, it's various interpretations and the decisions that have shaped our democracy. Structured chronologically from the first settlers until roughly 1990, the books expounds dozens of opinions while shining a critical light on the personalities and social conditions that brought these cases forward. The Marshall court flexing its muscle, The Four Horsemen that dogged FDR, The Warren This book was an excellent read. Peter Irons goes into great detail about the people that shaped the U.S. Constitution, it's various interpretations and the decisions that have shaped our democracy. Structured chronologically from the first settlers until roughly 1990, the books expounds dozens of opinions while shining a critical light on the personalities and social conditions that brought these cases forward. The Marshall court flexing its muscle, The Four Horsemen that dogged FDR, The Warren Court and it's momentous expansion of rights all fly off the page and into the imagination. It felt important to read, to learn about and appreciate. I was absolutely captivated by the language and how accessible it felt. This book is packed with interesting tidbits and commentary about periods of American History that are too often forgotten. Before reading this book I could not remember what Dred Scott was, or why Plessy v Ferguson was important. After reading this book I have become interested in the current activities of the Supreme Court, its recent rulings, its members and so forth. It has sparked a greater interest in US history, policy making, law, and activism. I not only recommend this book I implore you to read it. The amount of information contained in this book has been expertly woven together to form a compelling narrative about the profound changes American society has undergone. Reflected in our laws is our national character, a summation of beliefs that have defined who and what is ultimately American (and who is not). The judges who shaped that character deserve our attention and the plaintiffs who have challenged the status quo time and time again deserve to be remembered for their acts of bravery.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chrisiant

    I gave this book a good try, I really think I did. And I still think I might go back and make an effort at reading the entirety of the book at some point. The main problem I had with it is that it's billed as a book about the people behind the most influential Supreme Court cases, which sounded fascinating: Plessy, Brown, Roe, Dred Scott, and all the other lesser known figures who were part of making history, sometimes unwittingly or unwillingly. But 100 pages in (about when I quit) Irons was st I gave this book a good try, I really think I did. And I still think I might go back and make an effort at reading the entirety of the book at some point. The main problem I had with it is that it's billed as a book about the people behind the most influential Supreme Court cases, which sounded fascinating: Plessy, Brown, Roe, Dred Scott, and all the other lesser known figures who were part of making history, sometimes unwittingly or unwillingly. But 100 pages in (about when I quit) Irons was still analyzing the original make-up of the court, and the personalities of each justice and why they complained about having to be circuit riders. This was after 90 pages of analysis on the Constitutional Convention, highlighting the framers' lack of attention to Article 3 (the article that established the Supreme Court). While I might well have read a book about the Constitutional Convention, it's not what I was expecting out of this book, and so by the time I arrived at the bit I was expecting, I was so bored with what I'd already slogged through that it held no interest for me anymore. Like I said, maybe another time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Not bad. Irons is interesting, and provides a lot of great vignettes of the cases, and particularly the people, that make up our Constitutional law. His legal knowledge and qualifications can't be denied. He is, however, not a historian, and his bias, like that of his mentor Howard Zinn, is open and overt. His heroes (particularly Earl Warren) loom large and change the country for the better, dying mourned and beloved, while his villains are usually consigned to mediocrity or dismissed with a ph Not bad. Irons is interesting, and provides a lot of great vignettes of the cases, and particularly the people, that make up our Constitutional law. His legal knowledge and qualifications can't be denied. He is, however, not a historian, and his bias, like that of his mentor Howard Zinn, is open and overt. His heroes (particularly Earl Warren) loom large and change the country for the better, dying mourned and beloved, while his villains are usually consigned to mediocrity or dismissed with a phrase such as "He was rated a 'failure' by modern scholars." While my own views may correspond with his more often than not, he approaches history as a tool for his own use, and a way to prove the virtue of his teleological perspective. History should deal with the past on its own terms - reading our own values back to color the choices its participants made is something we all do, certainly, but that historians try to minimize as anachronistic. Kudos to Irons for taking on the task, for being a good read, and for providing one of the very few comprehensive histories out there, but I really wish he had worked harder to leave himself out of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sean Sullivan

    I bought this one at the beginning of my first semester of law school thinking it would be a good idea to get an overview of the major Supreme Court decisions, and a bonus if I got that overview from a progressive perspective. Well, I got an overview, and from a progressive perspective as well. This is the first popular book of Supreme Court history I have read, so its hard for me to say if they are all this dryly written, but seriously, my constitutional law casebook has got more razzle dazzle. T I bought this one at the beginning of my first semester of law school thinking it would be a good idea to get an overview of the major Supreme Court decisions, and a bonus if I got that overview from a progressive perspective. Well, I got an overview, and from a progressive perspective as well. This is the first popular book of Supreme Court history I have read, so its hard for me to say if they are all this dryly written, but seriously, my constitutional law casebook has got more razzle dazzle. The book is comprehensive. It covers every case you need to know about if you’re interested in individual rights from Dred Scott to Rasul v. Bush. Still, I’m a law nerd and it took me months to finally finish this one. Then again, when I get home at night the last thing I want to do is read more about interstate commerce and labor.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Because it's mentioned in The Supremes' Greatest Hits, Revised & Updated Edition: The 37 Supreme Court Cases That Most Directly Affect Your Life. But probably not worth bothering with, (for me), because it's no newer. --------- Ok, I've looked over a copy and read several pages (in the middle, about cases that interest me). And it turns out that the reason it doesn't particularly interest me is because it's more about the people rather than the cases themselves. I'm weird that way, but I do prefer Because it's mentioned in The Supremes' Greatest Hits, Revised & Updated Edition: The 37 Supreme Court Cases That Most Directly Affect Your Life. But probably not worth bothering with, (for me), because it's no newer. --------- Ok, I've looked over a copy and read several pages (in the middle, about cases that interest me). And it turns out that the reason it doesn't particularly interest me is because it's more about the people rather than the cases themselves. I'm weird that way, but I do prefer my lessons more 'dry.'

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily Rice

    I really really liked this. I didn’t know a ton about the Supreme Court, and this is exactly what it says: an overview of the court’s decisions placed in the context of history. At times I thought it got kind of vague or just threw names at me, but I get why: it’s an overview, not a deep dive. Overall tho the discussion of political factors in the decisions and the overall trends that impacted the court was super illuminating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    As you would expect, given the title, this is a liberal take on the history of the Supreme Court. The author is an activist and legal scholar who participated in some significant historical legal issues himself, such as defending Daniel Ellsburg when he was being prosecuted over the Pentagon Papers and helping overturn the wartime convictions of the Japanese Americans best known for originally losing their cases in the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. U.S., the shameful case that allowed internment As you would expect, given the title, this is a liberal take on the history of the Supreme Court. The author is an activist and legal scholar who participated in some significant historical legal issues himself, such as defending Daniel Ellsburg when he was being prosecuted over the Pentagon Papers and helping overturn the wartime convictions of the Japanese Americans best known for originally losing their cases in the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. U.S., the shameful case that allowed internment of Japanese Americans to go forward. So let me first say that Peter Irons knows his legal history. The book focuses on: 1. The history of the creation of the SC and the intent of the founders. 2. The early history of the SC, and the ways that very early precedents established what the institution became, such as establishing judicial review as well as supporting the development of the administrative state. 3. The history of landmark decisions related to the Civil War and the horrifying failure of the court to defend the 14th and 15th amendments. 4. The ways that the SC, for many decades, especially during the late 19th c. and early 20th c., ignored or actively undermined the occasional attempts of legislatures to improve the conditions of workers, favoring the interests the wealthy and the powerful. 5. The history of the huge swing towards a more liberal court, during FDR's lengthy presidency, that established precedents of free speech, protection of the accused (and curbing the excesses of law enforcement and prosecutors), civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights. 6. The more recent swing back towards a conservative court that is eroding the liberal precedents. He does an excellent job of covering the court, letting us see the big trends and how the precedents for these trends were established. He emphasizes that the SC is and always has been a very political body, and that efforts to paint it as outside of politics are disingenuous. He describes in detail the ways that politics led presidents choose SC members for specific reasons, in the hopes of attaining specific political goals. History has shown that appointments don't always work out as expected, because decades on the court, along with changing societal circumstances, can change a person. But by and large, the court does change over time in ways that tend to be consistent with the political currents of the era. They just usually run a decade or so behind the currents. I have two complaints about the book: 1. He promises at the beginning that this is a history not just of the justices and the presidents who appointed them, but of the people whose cases came before the court. He promises to make these people more real, and to talk about the intersections between law and the lives of ordinary people. I would say that he mostly fails in this regard. He does discuss the actual lives of a couple of the people whose cases are famous, but he provides scant information and doesn't even try to address the lives of most of the people whose names have become associated with legal history. 2. In his history of the justices, he sometimes moves forward and then backward in time in ways that can be confusing. He writes the way that people speak sometimes, following a story forward in time because he is thinking about a particular story or justice, but then coming back to a particular time. Besides being a little confusing, this also sometimes causes him to repeat the same facts multiple times. In short, the text could have used some tighter editing. Mostly, though, it was a very interesting and elucidating read. I had heard of most of the cases he discussed, but he provides very in-depth information about the actual arguments, and seeing these arguments in the context of the legal history makes them much easier to understand. The history of the SC in the latter part of the 19th century was deeply disturbing and depressing. That a body of such well educated, scholarly men (because they were of course all men at the time) could be the purveyors of such virulent racism, using such intellectually dishonest arguments, is chilling. This is definitely a book worth reading if you're at all interested in constitutional law.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    It was a long and complicated read. Right in the beginning I was shocked to learn how the author was in jail for resisting the draft. There were some great passages of the book. First, there was George Mason foretelling the Civil War due to the compromises to slavery at the country's founding (Irons, 33). Second, John Marshal choose liberty over property in the XYZ Affair (Irons, 140). Third, it seems that there was an anti-vaxxer sentiment even at the beginning of the 20th century (Irons, 270). It was a long and complicated read. Right in the beginning I was shocked to learn how the author was in jail for resisting the draft. There were some great passages of the book. First, there was George Mason foretelling the Civil War due to the compromises to slavery at the country's founding (Irons, 33). Second, John Marshal choose liberty over property in the XYZ Affair (Irons, 140). Third, it seems that there was an anti-vaxxer sentiment even at the beginning of the 20th century (Irons, 270). Fourth, that during the Great Depression almost a one third of the all Americans were out of work (Irons, 294). Fifth, in Brown, Earl Warren stated that, "To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. ... A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. (Irons 398)." Finally, Thurgood Marshall wrote, "The position of the Negro today in America is the tragic but inevitable consequence of centuries of unequal treatment. Measured by any benchmark of comfort or achievement, meaningful equality remains a distant dream for the Negro. irons 456)"

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian Stuy

    The Supreme Court can almost be viewed as an after thought of the Founding Fathers. Initially limited in its purview, future cases expanded its role in American life. Today, it is a powerful "third leg" to the U.S. Government. Iron's takes the reader on a largely chronological ride from the earliest cases following the formation of the U.S. Supreme Court to the last cases heard immediately after the 2004 Presidential election. It is fascinating to watch as "landmark" cases evolved from the practi The Supreme Court can almost be viewed as an after thought of the Founding Fathers. Initially limited in its purview, future cases expanded its role in American life. Today, it is a powerful "third leg" to the U.S. Government. Iron's takes the reader on a largely chronological ride from the earliest cases following the formation of the U.S. Supreme Court to the last cases heard immediately after the 2004 Presidential election. It is fascinating to watch as "landmark" cases evolved from the practical to the political over the course of the past 200-plus years. The actors appearing and disappearing, leaving little impact or truly altering the course of U.S. History, is fascinating to read. But the true value is in the important cases themselves -- the collision of values and perspectives of each justice, and how time and experience sometimes resulted in reversed decisions from the same justices in future rulings. The book is not an easy read. It is dense with historical dates, personalities and background. But at the end one will be educated on how things have evolved -- both the Supreme Court itself, and the changing perspectives it has brought to the U.S. Constitution.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Rheingans

    Irons' history of the impact and evolution of the Supreme Court from its framing during the Constitutional Convention to the landmark cases ending with Casey v. Planned Parenthood, A People's History provides a fantastic examination of the impact the Court has had on the lives of Americans throughout our history. The book is dense, providing a fantastic amount of research and depth but is also very readable. Even knowing and teaching these cases in my classes, I learned a tremendous amount while Irons' history of the impact and evolution of the Supreme Court from its framing during the Constitutional Convention to the landmark cases ending with Casey v. Planned Parenthood, A People's History provides a fantastic examination of the impact the Court has had on the lives of Americans throughout our history. The book is dense, providing a fantastic amount of research and depth but is also very readable. Even knowing and teaching these cases in my classes, I learned a tremendous amount while reading this book, and was even aghast at times but the language and perceptions of some of the men and women who sat in that powerful body. I do suggest to anyone interested in the topic or who wants to take a different look at the key moments in American history to read this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Avid

    I read the ebook version, and there were so many errors - typographical, punctuation, and spelling - that parts were almost unreadable. I wish I had noted the surname that was spelled so many different ways, I came away not even knowing what it was supposed to be in order to google it. I would characterize the editing process as “reckless”, or possibly just “none”. I felt like I was reading a first draft. Ok. So aside from the assault on the reading experience, the book was well-researched, but I read the ebook version, and there were so many errors - typographical, punctuation, and spelling - that parts were almost unreadable. I wish I had noted the surname that was spelled so many different ways, I came away not even knowing what it was supposed to be in order to google it. I would characterize the editing process as “reckless”, or possibly just “none”. I felt like I was reading a first draft. Ok. So aside from the assault on the reading experience, the book was well-researched, but maybe a little ambitious to condense into one volume. Some cases went on and on. The backstories of the justices and the politics behind their appointments were sometimes given short shrift as a result. This could have been a bit better.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Similar in name and intent to Zinn’s ‘A Peoples History of the United States’ (and he writes the Introduction in this book), Iron’s history of the Supreme Court is an in depth look into the history of the Constitution and the court up to the Clinton era. My only complaint is that he gets stuck on certain cases for chapters on subjects that have had many books written on those cases, the during other periods is too brief (I know he’s done his research on the court because his other books, includi Similar in name and intent to Zinn’s ‘A Peoples History of the United States’ (and he writes the Introduction in this book), Iron’s history of the Supreme Court is an in depth look into the history of the Constitution and the court up to the Clinton era. My only complaint is that he gets stuck on certain cases for chapters on subjects that have had many books written on those cases, the during other periods is too brief (I know he’s done his research on the court because his other books, including ‘The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court’ show the breath of his knowledge on the subject.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephan Burton

    This book gives an overview of the history of the Supreme court and the major decisions it made throughout history. I started out liking the book and was interested in the premise. Eventually the book started harping on how everybody (including Lincoln) was a racist. I don't find it constructive or insightful to judge 19th century people by 21st century values. I would much rather try to understand why they thought the way they did, and see what lessons I can carry forward to my time and values. This book gives an overview of the history of the Supreme court and the major decisions it made throughout history. I started out liking the book and was interested in the premise. Eventually the book started harping on how everybody (including Lincoln) was a racist. I don't find it constructive or insightful to judge 19th century people by 21st century values. I would much rather try to understand why they thought the way they did, and see what lessons I can carry forward to my time and values. I couldn't get myself to finish this book because I got tired of the author calling everybody a racist.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Sternisha

    Well worth the read, but the end is not a conclusion, but a stopping point with tepid assessments of Justices Roberts and Alito. It is tough to bring over two hundred years of history into one book, but Irons did well. The Dred Scott decision could have used more discussion and gun rights goes unmentioned. The beginning of the book is a detailed discussion of the Constitutional Convention, which I wish he had skipped in favor of covering more cases. However, his point is that the Constitution wa Well worth the read, but the end is not a conclusion, but a stopping point with tepid assessments of Justices Roberts and Alito. It is tough to bring over two hundred years of history into one book, but Irons did well. The Dred Scott decision could have used more discussion and gun rights goes unmentioned. The beginning of the book is a detailed discussion of the Constitutional Convention, which I wish he had skipped in favor of covering more cases. However, his point is that the Constitution was a hotly debated document where all founders did not agree, which is a view that is certainly needed in today’s political climate.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tom Wells

    I love this book. I have read it three or four times, just to remind myself that even though there have been times in our country when unjust junk has fallen on the heads of the people of this country, the arc toward justice is, as Martin Luther King insisted, indeed long and unstoppable. It's hard to remember at times when there is a critical mass of people in charge of this country that wants to restrict the rights of those who don't have a voice of their own, but those people are consistently I love this book. I have read it three or four times, just to remind myself that even though there have been times in our country when unjust junk has fallen on the heads of the people of this country, the arc toward justice is, as Martin Luther King insisted, indeed long and unstoppable. It's hard to remember at times when there is a critical mass of people in charge of this country that wants to restrict the rights of those who don't have a voice of their own, but those people are consistently on the wrong side of history. Thank you Peter Irons for giving me the occasional reminder.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    If you believe the U.S. Constitution was handed down in unalterable form from infallible founding fathers, or that it’s been consistently interpreted to favor the rights of ordinary Americans over those with economic power, Peter Irons has a wakeup call for you. His is a story of people, not paradigms - real people with foibles, failings and political biases, and yes, a few with extraordinary courage and foresight. Irons provides a relentlessly honest take on the “jarring and discordant” process If you believe the U.S. Constitution was handed down in unalterable form from infallible founding fathers, or that it’s been consistently interpreted to favor the rights of ordinary Americans over those with economic power, Peter Irons has a wakeup call for you. His is a story of people, not paradigms - real people with foibles, failings and political biases, and yes, a few with extraordinary courage and foresight. Irons provides a relentlessly honest take on the “jarring and discordant” process that created - and continues to shape - our Constitution.

  30. 4 out of 5

    James

    I read this book over a year ago. The detail is there within it, but the pages are boughed. The author spends too much time discussing Article 3 and explaining terminology. It should adhere to its own title and inform on the 'why' when shaping the US's Constitution. Also, the book leaned too far to the left for me to digest. I read this book over a year ago. The detail is there within it, but the pages are boughed. The author spends too much time discussing Article 3 and explaining terminology. It should adhere to its own title and inform on the 'why' when shaping the US's Constitution. Also, the book leaned too far to the left for me to digest.

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