Five Chiefs

A Supreme Court Memoir

By John Paul Stevens
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316199803, 304pp.)

Publication Date: October 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Compact Disc, Paperback

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Description

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.




About the Author

John Paul Stevens served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970-1975. President Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975. Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court on June 29, 2010.




NPR
Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011

After 35 years as a Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens retired last year. His newly released memoir is about his time on the bench and the five Supreme Court chief justices he personally knew. He details his views of those justices and how his viewpoints on various issues evolved over the years. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2011

John Paul Stevens' new memoir is framed as a discussion about the office of the chief justice; it includes a brief history of the nation's first 12 chief justices, followed by thorough descriptions of the five he knew well. Stevens, now 91, retired in 2010 after nearly 35 years on the Supreme Court. More at NPR.org

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Praise For Five Chiefs

"A gentle memoir by a decent and accomplished public servant. Stevens opts not for jabs or evening scores but rather for reminiscences...Laced with observations on the court's architecture, traditions and even its seating arrangements, it is the collected ruminations of a man who has served his country in war and peace, across the decades... His memoir is as gracious as its author and a reminder that Stevens is more than a longtime member of the nation's highest court. He is a national treasure."—Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times

"Five Chiefs is a 248-page bow-tie; like its dignified author, and his famous sartorial flourish, an unpretentious but important addition to American history...At its core, the book is not just another memoir from yet another judge. It marks instead the end of an era on the Supreme Court and in the broader swath of American law and politics...Stevens' focused eye gives way to a hundred or so smaller points, some densely legal, some historical, some even funny...Five Chiefs is the right book at the right time. It's a brief and largely defanged reminder of some of what we have lost in public life with the demise of the "moderate Republican" on Capitol Hill and the "practical conservative" on the federal bench...A fine new book.—Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic

"A funny little memoir, as quirky and interesting as its author...The biggest value of Five Chiefs is its anecdotal color in filling in our understanding of the Court and its members."—Michael O'Donnell, Washington Monthly

"An informative and very appealing new memoir of life on the Supreme Court...Justice Stevens not only shows extraordinary respect for the Court as an institution, but does the same for his former colleagues-even ones with whom he often disagreed...[It's] classic Justice Stevens: understated and generous to those he differs with, but absolutely clear on where he believes justice lies."—Adam Cohen, Time

"In one way or another, Stevens finds a shared passion-social, military, or just tennis or piloting small aircraft-with everyone at the court, as a way of explaining that at a court, this intimately connected, the commonalities will always outweigh the differences...Coming from the last of a dying breed of jurists who genuinely believe you can learn something from everyone if you just listen hard enough, it is a lesson in how, at the Supreme Court, civility and cordiality matter more, even, than doctrine."—Dahlia Lithwick, Washington Post

"There have been many Supreme Court memoirs, but I can safely say his is the most self-effacing. The title itself is other-directed...And it seems to pain the old-school, bow-tied Stevens that, in order to understand his connection to the chiefs 'some autobiographical comments must be tolerated.' ... Stevens can also be winningly wry."—The Boston Globe

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