Supreme Power

  • by Jeff Shesol
  • Narrated by Mel Foster
  • 23 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Beginning in 1935, in a series of devastating decisions, the Supreme Court's conservative majority left much of Franklin Roosevelt's agenda in ruins. The pillars of the New Deal fell in short succession. It was not just the New Deal but democracy itself that stood on trial. In February 1937, Roosevelt struck back with an audacious plan to expand the Court to fifteen justices - and to "pack" the new seats with liberals who shared his belief in a "living" Constitution. The ensuing fight was a firestorm that engulfed the White House, the Court, Congress, and the nation.
The final verdict was a shock. It dealt FDR the biggest setback of his political life, split the Democratic party, and set the stage for a future era of Republican dominance. Yet the battle also transformed America's political and constitutional landscape, hastening the nation's march into the modern world.
This brilliant work of history unfolds like a thriller, with vivid characters and unexpected twists. Providing new evidence and fresh insight, Jeff Shesol shows why understanding the Court fight is essential to understanding the presidency, personality, and legacy of FDR - and to understanding America at a crossroads in its history.


What the Critics Say

Supreme Power is an extraordinary book that rings with relevance for our time.” (Bill Clinton)
"Characterizing defining traits of the main combatants—FDR, Chief Justice Charles Hughes, and Senator Burt Wheeler—Shesol skillfully illustrates the nexus of personality and principle, with the New Deal and the Constitution being perceived as at stake. A book sure to recruit history readers, especially those eyeing present political currents." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent Book and Naration

This book was extremely well written and well narrated- it is probably one of the best books I've listened to this year. Jeff Shesol did a great job of painting a picture of all of the key players in Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court- from Roosevelt himself to Senators Bert Wheeler and Joe Robinson, to each of the US Supreme Court Justices that made up that court. What made this book so great was that the author did an incredible job of framing each of the key player's personal agendas and priorities as either a proponent or opponent of the court packing scheme as well as providing a brief biography of each of them. Most interesting were the discussions of Chief Justice Hughes (a former US Presidetial candidate) as well as Justices Stone and Roberts (who eventually became the key swing vote in the court). I strongly recommend the book as a great listen
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Marvelous History

"Supreme Power" is a brilliant exposition of the period when the Constitution emerged from the straightjacket of the 19th century property rights movement and helped to create modern constitutional approaches to the inherent powers of the Commerce Clause and the plenary power of Congress to act in the national interest, which was essential to the civil rights and environmental movements, among other important trends in contemporary America. Shesol tells an utterly compellibng story in a lively, non-pedantic manner. An absolute must for any student of American political history.
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- Michael

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-26-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio