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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Great insight into the previously impenetrable world of the court

This book provides the story of how the members of the court came to a number of key decisions over the past few decades. The insights presented provide a picture of the inner workings of the court. The importance of this body of government becomes plainly clear.

posted by AdvRider on February 27, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Worthy of People magazine - only longer

I was hoping for an update to 'The Brethren' - what a disappointment! Toobin would have us believe that ideology and personality control virtually all Supreme Court decisions. The subtext is that there is a great conservative conspiracy. Much more fair and balanced is...
I was hoping for an update to 'The Brethren' - what a disappointment! Toobin would have us believe that ideology and personality control virtually all Supreme Court decisions. The subtext is that there is a great conservative conspiracy. Much more fair and balanced is 'Supreme Conflict' by Jan Crawford Greenburg. Toobin suggests that Justice O'Conner was more concerned with polling data than reasoned analysis (except, of course, for Stenberg v. Carhart, when she was 'played' by Justice Breyer). The personal lives and opinions of the justices are interesting and even insightful. To think decisions are made in a vacuum is naïve. But to propose that ideology is the only consideration is shallow, even insulting. The internal inconsistencies and unfounded conclusions in this book are too many to mention. I confess, however, that Toobin has a good writing style, but so does John Grisham.

posted by Anonymous on March 28, 2008

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Worth a read. I picked it up just to educate myself on the judic

    Worth a read. I picked it up just to educate myself on the judicial branch of the government, but it turned out to be oddly entertaining. Warning: it is a bit biased towards the liberal side.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great insight into the previously impenetrable world of the court

    This book provides the story of how the members of the court came to a number of key decisions over the past few decades. The insights presented provide a picture of the inner workings of the court. The importance of this body of government becomes plainly clear.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 5, 2009

    An interesting read on what is always a timely topic

    Jeffrey Toobin's look inside the mystical third branch of America's federal government brings with it a thought provoking discussion of just how important the confirmation of each new justice is for the country as a whole. Built off of interviews with all of the justices along with nearly 100 of their law clerks, the book brings us as close to the thinking of the often reclusive justices as is practically possible. Far from a dispassionate group of nine justices operating from facts alone, Toobin shows us how the determination of what is legal and what is not has as much or more to do with the political philosophy that currently has 5 of the 9 votes. Toobin provides us both a biography of the justices who have sat on the bench over the last 20 years as well as a detailed analysis of the decision making that went into some of the most important judgements the court has made. While there have been many instances when the justices have stood up for the rights of the people, there have also been moments when their personal politics have overridden unbiased deliberations.


    Right from the beginning, the book is immensely readable. It avoids descending into the gnarled forest of 'legalese' allowing anyone to follow narrative. However, it is not perfect. Toobin seems to wander from one topic to another without making any real connection. He skips around, dropping biographic information into the middle of legal debates almost haphazardly. And while the text is quite readable, the price for it seemed to be a lack of detailed analysis of some of the greatest cases seen in the last two decades and little analysis of the consequences of those cases. Finally, Toobin wears his own political beliefs on his sleeve just a little too much, painting one side just a little too dark and the other just a little too innocent for the text to be called evenhanded. That said, the book is well worth reading for those who are uninitiated to the complexities involved in the Supreme Court. The Nine will shed light on just how influential those nine individuals are to our way of life.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    A Fascinating Read from One Who Knows!

    Jeffrey Toobin takes the reader into the Supreme Court with stories that only an expert would know. A fascinating read of the individual players on the Court and how they come together as a team. Some great anecdotes and funny details. This book was a deeply engrossing read for anyone who has ever been interested in politics and how the country's legal decisions are handed down. Thank you, Mr. Toobin!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book

    This book is a fairly thorough look at the modern Supreme Court. It focused on the major cases and the personalitites of the justices. The author shows how politics did influence the court and how the various Presidential administrations clashed with members of the court. This book shows to the reader that the personalities of the justices does matter because it does affect how they rule on various cases.

    This is a great read and it is very enlightening. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the supreme court.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Fascinating and informative

    Toobin's clear prose and exhaustive research, not to mention his unique perspective as an insider at the Court, bring the justices and their inner lives to life. I learned so much about this incredibly powerful yet mysterious branch of government.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2010

    A great educational read

    Toobin's knowledge and clear writing style pay dividende to anyone who wants to learn the inner workings of our national institution of ultimate authority.

    Fascinating and readable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    An informative and inspiring book on the Supreme Court.

    Very interesting description of the Supreme Court Judges. Although the
    author's biases are evident, each member of the Court is brought to us
    at the "human level". I am inspired to follow the Court cases and the make up of the Court more now.
    Well worth the reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Fascinating, if biased treatment

    Particularly good treatment of the interaction amongst the justices and the personal peculiarities of each.

    Very biased in that the author makes his personal "right" or "wrong" determination of individual justices' actions.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    STORY OF MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT AND RECENT DECISIONS

    Engrossing story of how members of the supreme court are chosen, what is their background, the bases of their decisions and the power their yield.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    The Nine

    Well written, well researched book detailing insider details about the working of the Supreme Court. Each Justice is presented fully, as well as their judicial background. It is very much clear that some issues are decided more on policy than constitutionality; but if one prefers to think of the Constitution as a living document, subject to interpretation according to the current issues, then this is a very good example of how the Justices reach consensus, (or not), and the process by which they operate. The book clearly makes this 3rd branch of government relevant.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    Should be on everyone's reading list

    I never read about the Supreme Court in depth before. This is an excellent source on the subject & the Court justices.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2009

    Captivating and insightful look at the private world of the Supreme Court

    Although i watch political and legal talk shows, i am hardly what you would call a political or legal enthusiast. However, I stumbled upon Jeffrey Toobin's book "The Nine" and I could hardly put it down. It is a captivating and informative journey into the lives, philosophies and decision making processes of the Supreme Court Justices. This book is so well written that you will find yourself anxious to get to the next chapter! I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to understand what shapes America's legal and political environments. It's just a great book that is enjoyable to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2008

    Worthy of People magazine - only longer

    I was hoping for an update to 'The Brethren' - what a disappointment! Toobin would have us believe that ideology and personality control virtually all Supreme Court decisions. The subtext is that there is a great conservative conspiracy. Much more fair and balanced is 'Supreme Conflict' by Jan Crawford Greenburg. Toobin suggests that Justice O'Conner was more concerned with polling data than reasoned analysis (except, of course, for Stenberg v. Carhart, when she was 'played' by Justice Breyer). The personal lives and opinions of the justices are interesting and even insightful. To think decisions are made in a vacuum is naïve. But to propose that ideology is the only consideration is shallow, even insulting. The internal inconsistencies and unfounded conclusions in this book are too many to mention. I confess, however, that Toobin has a good writing style, but so does John Grisham.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    Highly recommended if you care about your rights.

    A history review with behind the scenes insights and a must read for anyone concerned with the direction the religious right is pushing our nation. Having just read a biography of Thomas Jefferson who not only was the first republican president but a passionate advocate for the separation of church and state, I think he must be spinning in his grave. Please take a read and pass this on to a friend...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    The Nine

    Very interesting.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Narration

    Jeffery Toobin has an excellent ability to narrate. In "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," Jeffery Toobin gives the readers an inside look into the inner workings of the court, who really is in charge, etc. I recommend it to anyone interested in Politics

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Part of the developing literature about the Supreme Court and politics

    This is another of the many recent books on the Supreme Court and the revelation that politics is involved in their decisions. This is an easy to read book and gives a broad overview of recent opinions and the general direction of the court. There is not a great deal of new ground here and it would certainly be worthwhile to read some countering points of view either before or after this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2009

    A Review

    To claim that Toobin's criticism of Thomas and Scalia and his glowing reviews of O'Connor's contributions to the court as anything other than a liberal bent is to simply ignore reality, as is the claim that Thomas' contributions have been insignificant. Toobin's book isn't bad, but if you really want to read a good "behind the scenes" book, Supreme Conflict is far superior.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    loved it. could not put it down. read like a fast paced thriller.

    the inside scoop told in a fast paced highly interesting style. the personalities, the inner workings, the complexity and at the end of the day...the enormous influence "the nine" have over our society and the delicate forces that impact their decisions.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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