When he resigned in June 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens was the third-longest-serving Supreme Court justice in American history. As a lawyer and on the court, he worked with five chief justices: as a law clerk during Fred Vinson's tenure, a practicing lawyer when Earl Warren was chief, a circuit judge and junior justice during Warren Burger's term, a contemporary colleague of William Rehnquist and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts.
FIVE CHIEFS is his personal account of the workings of the court from his personal experiences with these men and the controversial cases they deliberated over, from freedom of speech and affirmative action to capital punishment and sovereign immunity.
Written with humility and grace and packed with interesting anecdotes, FIVE CHIEFS is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States.
Five Chiefs is a 248-page bow-tie; like its dignified author, and his famous sartorial flourish, an unpretentious but important addition to American history... At its core, the book is not just another memoir from yet another judge. It marks instead the end of an era on the Supreme Court and in the broader swath of American law and politics... Stevens' focused eye gives way to a hundred or so smaller points, some densely legal, some historical, some even funny... Five Chiefs is the right book at the right time. It's a brief and largely defanged reminder of some of what we have lost in public life with the demise of the 'moderate Republican' on Capitol Hill and the 'practical conservative' on the federal bench... A fine new book. - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic
An informative and very appealing new memoir of life on the Supreme Court... Justice Stevens not only shows extraordinary respect for the Court as an institution, but does the same for his former colleagues-even ones with whom he often disagreed...[It's] classic Justice Stevens: understated and generous to those he differs with, but absolutely clear on where he believes justice lies. - Adam Cohen - Time
A gentle memoir by a decent and accomplished public servant. Stevens opts not for jabs or evening scores but rather for reminiscences... Laced with observations on the court's architecture, traditions and even its seating arrangements, it is the collected ruminations of a man who has served his country in war and peace, across the decades... His memoir is as gracious as its author and a reminder that Stevens is more than a longtime member of the nation's highest court. He is a national treasure. - Jim Newton - Los Angeles Times