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John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  36 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The life of John Marshall, Founding Father and America's premier Chief Justice

In 1801, a genial and brilliant Revolutionary War veteran and politician became the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. He would hold the post for 34 years (still a record), expounding the Constitution he loved. Before he joined the Court, it was the weakling of the federal government, lac
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 15th 2018 by Basic Books
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In March 2018 I read Joel Richard Paul’s “Without Precedent Chief Justice John Marshall and His Time”. The book wet my appetite to learn more about John Marshall. When I saw this newly released biography of Marshall by Richard Brookhiser, I had to buy it.

John Marshall (1755-1835) was the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The first was John Jay, then John Rutledge and then Oliver Ellsworth. None of these men served in the position long. Marshall was sworn in as Chief Justice in 1801 and
George P.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The life of John Marshall (1755–1835) spans the first and formative decades of the United States. Born in colonial Virginia, Marshall fought for American independence under George Washington, whom he revered as the beau ideal of a true republican and memorialized in a biography. “For the rest of his life,” Richard Brookhiser writes, “John Marshall saw Washington as his commander and himself as one of his troops.” And so, when Washington personally urged Marshall to run for Congress in 1798, he d ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable, well-written, biography with touches of humanity to it. This is my third biography I've read on John Marshall (2nd this year), and first book I've read written by Richard Brookhiser. Brookhiser has two chief strengths: excellent writer and an ability to encapsilate complicated / complex things into easily understandable points.

For the reader interested in a short (277 pages), concise biography of John Marshall, this is the best pick that won't bog down the non-lawyer / historia
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A biography of the most important Supreme Court Justice in US history is not something you except to fly through. Nevertheless, once Marshall got onto the Supreme Court, I moved through the book very quickly. Brookhiser sticks to Marshall's professional life most of the time, though of course his personal life is mentioned, so if reading a bunch of summaries of cases and Marshall's opinions on things sounds boring, this is not the book for you. This seemed impeccably researched, primary sourcing ...more Biography & Memoir
Earlier this year, I read an engrossing biography of the Wright Brothers by the estimable David McCullough --- engrossing, that is, until about three-quarters through the book, when the Wrights are chiefly trying to build their business and deal with a morass of patent litigation. They learn through trial and error how to build a workable airplane, they show off their creation to skeptical groups in Ohio and adoring crowds in Paris, and then the story kind of sputters out, with Wilbur suffering ...more
David Williams
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
John Marshall is one of the most consequential figures in the history of the United States, yet too little is known about him. In John Marshall : The Man Who Made The Supreme Court, journalist and author Richard Brookhiser seeks to help us know more about this man. In life Marshall was an unimposing character. Early in the book Brookhiser relates a story about Marshall at home in Richmond. He was dressed like any other rustic. A newcomer to town asked him to carry a turkey home from the market, ...more
Scott Pomfret
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
As Brookhiser admits early in this unremarkable biography, John Marshall left only limited writings relative to some of his more famous founding father peers. The result is a biography that is swift, but doesn't really bring the man to life. Rather than revealing many personal details, Brookhiser focuses instead on the court cases, Marshall's ability to command majorities despite his many Republican co-justices, and his ability to write opinions that deliver his view of the law even when the out ...more
Jerry Smith
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019

I received this as a gift, even though I love History early American isn't really my area so I honestly had never heard of him. Having said that he was a pretty interesting guy and certainly formed the court to what it is today (for better or worse now...)
However he was a lifelong slave owner and even in context of history I can't get down with that.

The book was pretty fluffy at times and got muddy during some of the cases.
Skip it unless you really want to know the history.
Joshua Johnson
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very witty, engaging read. Brookheiser has compiled a thorough, detailed, and often intimately personal biography; my only real complaint is that I wished he had done a more prolonged, deeper dive of Marshall...but perhaps the source material did not provide such an opportunity. Well worth the read.
Robert Muller
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a biography, this one is a bit lightweight on detail but does give you the strong flavor of the man and his impact on the United States. It's very readable and as far as I can tell well-researched (I'm not a Marshall expert).
Pamela Okano
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, legal, memoir
A brief (277 pages) memoir of US Supreme Court Justice John Marshall's career, with special emphasis on selected SCOTUS decisions and his feud with Thomas Jefferson. A good intro to the man who made the Supreme Court.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good short biography, focusing a lot on various cases he was part of. Also, sheds light on our country's beginnings. Strongly recommend.
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Dan Cotter
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent biography that adds to the John Marshall bios but adds in a substantive way. The author is an excellent writer and makes the history come alive. As someone who writes often about the Court and its Chiefs, I was engaged and learned a few things. I have read some of the author’s other works but will be revisiting his excellent writings.
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Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father (Free Press 1996), is a senior editor at National Review and a columnist for The New York Observer.
“When Marshall died in 1835, he and the Court he led had rebuked two presidents, Congress, and a dozen states and laid down principles of law and politics that still apply.” 0 likes
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