Review: Iron’s A People’s History of the Supreme Court

A People’s History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped OurConstitution: Revised Edition
Peter Irons

A pretty well done progressive view of the Supreme Court. This one hits all the necessary rules (Dred Scott, Korematsu, Brown and so many more) while also covering some lesser known rulings like the Antelope (a fascinating early case on slavery which I thought about writing a book, and didn’t and which now there is another book – opportunities lost).

Since Howard Zinn coined the term “People’s History”, there’s been a whole cottage industry of books with that in the title.  You have to be careful, they can get pretty wishy-washy and, in some cases, inaccurate in their attempts at revisionist history. Irons here stays true to Zinn’s original model — the book attempts to put the stories of the people behind the cases front and center, spending more time on Scott the person than on the justices who decided his fate, but never at the expense of the historical truth.

A worthy counterpoint to more judge focused Supreme Court overviews, I’d recommend this to anyone interested in the history behind the courts most important social justice issues.


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