Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (Hardcover)
A Supreme Court Memoir
Little, Brown and Company, 9780316199803, 304pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
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
Praise For Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir…
"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."
-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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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