• A People's History of the Supreme Court

  • The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution
  • By: Peter Irons, Howard Zinn - foreword
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 28 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (84 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1999 Peter Irons (P)2019 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about A People's History of the Supreme Court

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book

Might listen again. Really shows you how messed up the USSC has been populated by crazies from the beginning. What we're seeing now is nothing new.

4 people found this helpful

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Favorite History Book Ever (non-history wonk)

Preface: I am fascinated by the Supreme Court. I never really considered myself a student of history, I am after-all a science teacher. I loved this book, it was more of a history of the US with the court being used as the focus throughout the last 250 years.

My only wish would be that I could come back in the year 2300 and read the authors next installment.

2 people found this helpful

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Supreme Court wasn't all that Great

This story tells about the Supreme Court, its judges and the cases brought before it. It surprised me that some really not so great people were Supreme Court Judges.

4 people found this helpful

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An informative but tedious narrative

Overall, while informative, this book lacked the consistent in depth personal stories and accounts of Supreme Court decisions and how those decisions impact everyday people as promised by the book's intro. The first chapter of the book read like a recitation of random facts about laws in the US colonies. Most of the remainder of the first section of the book described issues debated during the Constitutional Convention. The first section was laborious to read and slog through and seemed relatively unnecessary to the rest of the book. Throughout the book, the author has a bad habbit of making exaggerated generalizations about historical figures that lack nuance. For example, the author implies that President Grant was almost as ineffective at supporting Reconstruction's goals and protecting the rights of the freedmen as President Johnson - a claim effectively refuted by Ron Chernow in his thorough biography of Grant. The writer also minimizes the important legacy of Justice John Marshall Harlan by claiming that Harlan only cared about the political but not social equality of blacks but fails to account for the evolution of Harlan's thinking over time, his close and mutually supportive relationship with his black half brother Robert Harlan, and his friendly social interactions with Fredrick Douglas. I was deeply disapppointed by the cursory and incomplete discussion of landmark decisions made by the Warren Court. On a positive note, I did find the author's analysis of the court's acquiessence to Wilson's attacks on Civil Liberties during WWI to be fascinating, I appreciated the discussion of court decisions related to Japanese internment camps during WWII, and the overview of Thurgood Marshall's legal strategy culminating in the landmark Brown vs. Board decision and the aftermath of that dexision were well done. While parts of the narrative were engaging and engrossing, much of the book made for tedious listening bogged down in legal minutia instead of focusing the stories of real people - especially before the narrative entered the 20th century. Listeners looking for a more engaging narrative that focuses more on the actual stories and people effected by landmark Supreme Court decisions would probably apprreciate and enjoy listening to Irons's "May it Please the Court" project far more than listening to this book. This book also lacks the engaging, engrossing narrative structure of its inspiration - Zinn's outstanding "A People's History of the US." This book does make a convincing argument that the Supreme Court has been highly political and effected by politics throughout our nation's history.

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Layman’s read on SUPREME COURT!

Easy to follow and understand. A must read for all constitutional novices! A book to be updated occasionally!