Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Shesol is a terrific storyteller, and he brings the book's events to life by taking the [listener] inside the key places where the constitutional conflict took shape." ---The Boston Globe
"Foster's perfectly metered baritone gives life to Jeff Shesol's detailed account of the "court fight."… Foster's occasional attempts to mimic the voices of the pompous participants add variety and humor." ---AudioFile
In the years before World War II, Franklin Roosevelt's fiercest, most unyielding opponent was neither a foreign power nor "fear itself"—it was the U.S. Supreme Court. In this brilliant analysis of the president's battle with the Court, Jeff Shesol paints a vivid portrait of America at a crossroads in its history.
About the Author
Jeff Shesol is a founding partner of West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and communications strategy firm, and a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. Before he became a speechwriter, Jeff wrote and drew the syndicated comic strip Thatch, which appeared daily in more than 150 newspapers. His book Mutual Contempt was a New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post Critic's Choice. Jeff continues to publish widely under his own byline and appears frequently on television and radio. A Rhodes Scholar, Jeff got his masters in history from Oxford University in 1993 and graduated from Brown University in 1991. He was the 2002 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton University, where he taught a course on the history of the presidential speech. Jeff lives in Washington with his wife, Rebecca, and their two children. Mel Foster has narrated over 150 audiobooks and has won several awards. Twice an Audie finalist for 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood and Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey, he won for the latter title. He has also won several AudioFile Earphones Awards. Best known for mysteries, Mel has also narrated classic authors such as Thoreau, Nabokov, and Whitman.