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Five Chiefs

A Supreme Court Memoir

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 17, 2011 – In this engaging memoir and history of the U.S. Supreme Court, Stevens—who at his retirement in June 2010 became the third-longest serving justice in American history—offers a window into the practical workings of the constitutional system and its division of powers. His portrayals of Chief Justices Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts provide a framework for his discussion of key issues taken up by the court since Nixon's resignation: the powers of the presidency, integration, civil rights, the meaning of the word "liberty" in the 14th Amendment, gun control, and the death penalty. Stevens shows that each new addition to the court transforms it by impacting the way in which the body as a whole works. Part of the pleasure of Stevens's writing is the way in which he relates the broader dialogue of the development of law to the individuals whose deliberations and discussions have shaped it. He explains how the court's deliberative process gives content to the notion of justice, which is never defined in the constitution, but is a kind of permanent work in progress.

Customer Reviews

Five Stars, but with reservations.

I read with great interest Justice Stevens' book on the 5 Chief Justices with whom he had contact and working relationships. It is filled with fascinating insights and information. The Supreme Court is an exceedingly powerful institution; one of the three co-equal branches of our federal government; and yet it is the least understood. My only reservation is in the organization of the text; I found it chaotic at times, but always fascinating. Justice Stevens served honorably and effectively for decades on "the highest Court in the land" and we should be thankful for his years of public service. I am appreciative of his efforts to share so many of his unique and personal insights and experiences.

Five Chiefs
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Oct 03, 2011
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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