Monday, October 3, 2011

Five Chiefs: Justice Stevens' Memoir is Released

Justice John Paul Stevens' memoir, Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (Brown, Little, 2011), has been released. The book will be of interest to legal historians, including because Justice Stevens reportedly  expresses strong opinions about history as a source of constitutional interpretation. Here is the publisher's description of the book.

When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010)--only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time.  In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices--Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts--that he interacted with. He reminisces of being a law clerk during Vinson's tenure; a practicing lawyer for Warren; a circuit judge and junior justice for Burger; a contemporary colleague of Rehnquist; and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts. Along the way, he will discuss his views of some the most significant cases that have been decided by the Court from Vinson, who became Chief Justice in 1946 when Truman was President, to Roberts, who became Chief Justice in 2005. Packed with interesting anecdotes and stories about the Court, Five Chiefs is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States.
Geoffrey Stone (Chicago-Law) reviews the book here. The Kirkus review is here.  See also features about the memoir in the Washington Post, Time, and the New York Times, as well as this transcript of an ABC news interview of the Justice about his memoir. Finally, see Justice Stevens' reminisces about life on the Court during this 2010 C-Span interview, conducted after he announced his retirement from the bench.