Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gerber: Two Thumbs Up on PBS Supreme Court Documentary, Episode 1

Scott Gerber, Ohio Northern Univ., reviewed the first episode of the documentary The Supreme Court very positively in the December issue of the Journal of American History. At the time he wrote the review, the first episode was the only one available.

Clearly a different take than David Garrow, although Garrow seems to like episode one the best, and focused his criticism on the 20th century coverage. I'll be curious about where readers come down once the documentary airs.

Here's Gerber's closing (can't post the rest for copyright reasons):
In Seriatim: The Supreme Court Before John Marshall (NYU Press, 1998), I attempted in a collection of essays written by leading authorities of the pre-Marshall Court justices to debunk the idea that the Supreme Court did nothing of importance prior to Marshall's appointment. The strong reviews the book received suggest that the book accomplished its objective. However, it is important to remember that books and films are distinctive art forms. Film-makers must simplify their presentations, and their examinations of a historical subject cannot be comprehensive. Film-makers, in short, are telling a different type of story--one that both moves and informs--than that told in an academic book. "The Supreme Court" is an unqualified success, and I highly recommend it for both personal and classroom use.

For the rest, click here (requires subscription -- ask your library).