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The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court

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An "extraordinary book reveal[ing] the live faces behind the masks of constitutional law; to read it is to understand the inner dynamics of law's outward development."—Laurence H. Tribe.


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An "extraordinary book reveal[ing] the live faces behind the masks of constitutional law; to read it is to understand the inner dynamics of law's outward development."—Laurence H. Tribe.

30 review for The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nyana Miller

    This was the only thing I read from the pre-law summer reading list. I found the cases very provocative and enjoyed the author's focus on both the legal details and the personal stories behind them. This historical/personal perspective made the book much more relevent to non-lawyers. The race cases and the freedom of religion/expression stuff that accompanied WWI and WWII were the most interesting to me. If you think the judicial system is all about equal justice for all, this book will both ins This was the only thing I read from the pre-law summer reading list. I found the cases very provocative and enjoyed the author's focus on both the legal details and the personal stories behind them. This historical/personal perspective made the book much more relevent to non-lawyers. The race cases and the freedom of religion/expression stuff that accompanied WWI and WWII were the most interesting to me. If you think the judicial system is all about equal justice for all, this book will both inspire and outrage you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Papaphilly

    What makes The Courage of Their Convictions so fascinating is not the stories themselves, but how Peter Irons handles the task at hand. He tells very compelling cases of ordinary Americans with their cases in front of the Supreme Court. The Courage of Their Convictions is more of a history book then it is of case law. It tells of the back ground and the journey to the Supreme Court, but not the actual case as law. The reader finds that the people these cases represent were not popular and paid h What makes The Courage of Their Convictions so fascinating is not the stories themselves, but how Peter Irons handles the task at hand. He tells very compelling cases of ordinary Americans with their cases in front of the Supreme Court. The Courage of Their Convictions is more of a history book then it is of case law. It tells of the back ground and the journey to the Supreme Court, but not the actual case as law. The reader finds that the people these cases represent were not popular and paid heavy prices to have a shot at Justice. Not all win their cases, but every case is important. Peter Irons gives glimpses into the back room of the High Court and you find very human people with their particular foibles as they grapple with the various cases. You read about the times and the public's response to the challenge to the law. What makes this book such a fascinating read is how Peter Irons breaks each case into two parts. The first part is the story of the case. The second part is the actual words from the person represented talking about themselves, their lives, and the case. It is a brilliant move because it places a human face on the law. It reminds the reader why the law must protect everyone equally, even when it is not popular.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bryn

    I love Irons, he takes not only a legal look at these very important cases but also has a personal information section with each case, which provides a look not often seen in legal study.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I learned a lot from this, I just felt like it was a lot longer than it needed to be! It was cool to hear directly from the people involved from the cases, but it didn't actually add that much for me. However, I really have a better understanding of the supreme court, and the biggest issues of the last century. The author did a good job giving a background for all of the cases, which was completely necessary for me. I would never have read this if it hadn't been assigned to me, so I'm glad it wa I learned a lot from this, I just felt like it was a lot longer than it needed to be! It was cool to hear directly from the people involved from the cases, but it didn't actually add that much for me. However, I really have a better understanding of the supreme court, and the biggest issues of the last century. The author did a good job giving a background for all of the cases, which was completely necessary for me. I would never have read this if it hadn't been assigned to me, so I'm glad it was.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beth Robinson

    I liked the structure best - that each chapter had a third person, in context, historical account of the case that went to the Supreme Court followed by a first person perspective of one of the main people who was fighting for a different verdict. It was a good mix of cases and I learned a lot. Some of the things that got folks' hackles up so badly seemed so insignificant, and their importance said a lot about the rest of the culture at the time. The book was often dry, but then I don't typically I liked the structure best - that each chapter had a third person, in context, historical account of the case that went to the Supreme Court followed by a first person perspective of one of the main people who was fighting for a different verdict. It was a good mix of cases and I learned a lot. Some of the things that got folks' hackles up so badly seemed so insignificant, and their importance said a lot about the rest of the culture at the time. The book was often dry, but then I don't typically read legal stories, even in fiction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bell

    took this slowly, one story at a time. amazing how people's lives and stories had such a major impact on supreme court decisions and American's lives. Deals with constitutional issues such as american japanese internment camps (and the refusal to participate), not saluting the flag in the classroom (initiated by an elementary school kid), and Blacks living in White neighbors. All things that are relatively recent in American history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Payton

    This book might as well be entitled "Liberal Legal Landmarks." I wish I hadn't wasted my time reading this. The author's blatant bias is particularly annoying. As an attorney, I can appreciate these landmarks--especially the Gertz decision for example, but the author's commentary was completely unnecessary. I will never read any other book by Peter Irons.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    had to read it in highschool, want to read through it again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tiu

    I liked the basis of the stories and hearing the incredible stories of our Supreme court, but everything had some sort of Liberal tint to it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Highjump

    loved all the progressive content, good number of teachers and unions involved! took a star off for the repeated mentions of Irons' own activism and the preachy epilogue.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    A very interesting book, with some good quotes and research.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    this was so disappointing. i was ready for some gritty back stories to famous cases with interviews and bite BUT it was all surface and fluff. Strand dollar books failed me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amberlie Reeve

    I really learned a lot from this book about courage and also about law and the Supreme Court.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    The book that made me at all interested in law.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shalini

    While I have a lot of alumni pride (yay Peter Irons Antioch Class of 1966), I just could not get through this book before it came due in the library. I think I am lawed out right now.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Kline

  17. 4 out of 5

    elaine

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaleigh

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  22. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy Powers

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Bass

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erika Migriño

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  29. 5 out of 5

    Becca Ryan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Rademacher

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