An able primer on the role of the Supreme Court in American life, and on the merits—and shortcomings—of American democracy.



An informative, behind-the-scenes view of daily life at the tallest bench in the land.

One of the most ingenious points of American democracy, writes Justice O’Connor (Lazy B, 2001), is its according “dual sovereignty” to the national and state governments; it is also one of its thorniest aspects, a source of constant conflict. Hence, the Supreme Court, which, since the days of John Marshall, has reserved for itself the power to determine whether a given law falls within the bounds of the Constitution. Justice O’Connor looks at a few of the signal cases the Court has heard in the last half-century, such as Brown v. Board of Education; profiles predecessors and colleagues like Thurgood Marshall and Warren Burger; holds forth on practical problems, e.g., jury duty (“It is incumbent upon those who oversee their jury systems to make sure that jury service, for whatever length of time, is bearable”); and exalts the better angels of American democracy, however fragile, witness the principle “that certain fundamental rights, to which every citizen is entitled, mist be placed outside the reach of political exigency.” Throughout, Justice O’Connor writes with lively humor; considering the mounds of paper that cross her desk: for instance, “The Court is a more reliable backstop for the health of the paper industry than any protectionist legislation Congress might pass.” Humor aside, and despite her conservative leanings, she also writes with a sharp sense of appreciation for dissenting views, and she is keenly appreciative of the growing role of women in political decision-making, arguing that “society as a whole can benefit immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement, and remuneration based on ability.”

An able primer on the role of the Supreme Court in American life, and on the merits—and shortcomings—of American democracy.

Pub Date: April 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50925-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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