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Publisher's Summary

From Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, comes this fascinating book about the history and evolution of the highest court in the land.
Out of Order sheds light on the centuries of change and upheaval that transformed the Supreme Court from its uncertain beginnings into the remarkable institution that thrives and endures today. From the early days of circuit-riding, when justices who also served as trial judges traveled thousands of miles per year on horseback to hear cases, to the changes in civil rights ushered in by Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall; from foundational decisions such as Marbury vs. Madison to modern-day cases such as Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld, Justice O’Connor weaves together stories and lessons from the history of the Court, charting turning points and pivotal moments that have helped define our nation’s progress.
With unparalleled insight and her unique perspective as a history-making figure, Justice O’Connor takes us on a personal exploration, painting vivid pictures of Justices in history, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of the greatest jurists of all time; Thurgood Marshall, whose understated and succinct style would come to transform oral argument; William O. Douglas, called "The Lone Ranger" because of his impassioned and frequent dissents; and John Roberts, whom Justice O’Connor considers to be the finest practitioner of oral argument she has ever witnessed in Court. We get a rare glimpse into the Supreme Court’s inner workings: how cases are chosen for hearing; the personal relationships that exist among the Justices; and the customs and traditions, both public and private, that bind one generation of jurists to the next - from the seating arrangements at Court lunches to the fiercely competitive basketball games played in the Court Building’s top-floor gymnasium, the so-called "highest court in the land".
Wise, candid, and assured, Out of Order is a rich offering of inspiring stories of one of our country’s most important institutions, from one of our country’s most respected pioneers.
©2013 Sandra Day O'Connor (P)2013 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

“In this delightful collection of tales, Sandra Day O’Connor shows us the personal side of the Supreme Court while reminding us of the critical role the Court plays. It’s a lovely book - and a valuable treasure for all Americans.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs)
“A maker of history, Sandra Day O’Connor proves herself an engaging historian in this fine book, taking us inside perhaps the most important and least understood institution in American life: the Supreme Court. With her characteristic clear-eyed common sense and a natural talent for storytelling, Justice O’Connor has given us a valuable and entertaining gift.”(Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power)
“We have always known that Sandra Day O’Connor was a wise and thoughtful Justice of the Supreme Court. But we haven’t always appreciated what a talented storyteller and historian she is as well. This, her most recent book, contains succinct and readable stories from the history of the Supreme Court, and it nicely demonstrates that remarkable talent.” (Gordon S. Wood, author of The Idea of America)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By GH on 03-07-13

A Historical Account of the Supreme Court

Right up Front, Justice O’Connor informs you that her book is a celebration of the Supreme Court and its history. This is not a tell-all book or a behind the scenes justification of her record either positive or negative. She introduces the court in a way one might talk about a beloved Uncle to a group of friends who you have never met. She has divided the book into sections of interest: the early years, silver tongued devils, presidential clashes, etc.

I like that she personally narrates the book. It lends a great amount of authenticity. I have read numerous historical novels that touch on many of the points she makes. John Adams by David McCullough, What Kind if Nation by Simon F. Simon and Truman and 1776 by McCullough, Thomas Jefferson by Joyce Appley and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – all fine works. Justice O’Connor’s accounts fit nicely with overlapping accounts by these historians. Yet, she introduces new information about the court and it struggles over the centuries.

If you have an interest in the Supreme Court, history, or government; this is a very worthwhile seven hours. If you are looking for dissention or scuttlebutt, look somewhere else.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 03-07-13


Sandra Day O'Connor reads her own book which in a way adds more to the book. The books chapter are dividend into topic relating to the court. O'Connor chose items that had a major effect on the future course of the court. Such as how the appointment of John Jay as the first Chief Justice effected the court and without him the court may become insignificant. She also told stories about key justices that had major effects good or bad on the court as well as court cases that add to the role or power of the court such as Marbury vs Madison. She told about the justices that were the first like her being the first women, Thurgood Marshall, the first black and L. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice and so. She also pointed out that not all justice were good such as McReynolds who was of the old fashion white southern gentelman. She said he led the court in the most descents and was a races and anti semite and was against every bill FDR put up for the new deal. I found the last section on what the justices did after retirement interesting. They service on the circuit courts and O'Connor rotates around the country serving on the various circuit courts. I also found it interesting what she pointed out about, that at times the dissenting opinion eventually became the law. Great to learn about the court from someone who was on the inside and could provide that little extra insight.

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12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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