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Download Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir, by John Paul Stevens Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (335 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Paul Stevens Narrator: Gregory Itzin Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010)—only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time.

In Five Chiefs, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices—Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts—that he interacted with. He reminisces of being a law clerk during Vinson’s tenure; a practicing lawyer for Warren; a circuit judge and junior justice for Burger; a contemporary colleague of Rehnquist; and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts. Along the way he will discuss his views of some the most significant cases that have been decided by the court from Vinson, who became Chief Justice in 1946 when Truman was president, to Roberts, who became chief justice in 2005.

Packed with interesting anecdotes and stories about the Court, Five Chiefs is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An informative and appealing new memoir of life on the Supreme Court…Stevens not only shows extraordinary respect for the Court as an institution, but does the same for his former colleagues—even those 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.”


  • “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 nations’ highest court. He is a national treasure.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Coming from the last of a dying breed of jurists who genuinely believe you can learn something from everyone if you just listen hard enough, it is a lesson in how, at the Supreme Court, civility and cordiality matter more, even, than doctrine.”

    Washington Post

  • 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 eyes 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.”


  • “Engaging…The pleasure of Stevens’ writing is the way in which he relates the broader dialogue of the development of law to the individuals who deliberations and discussions have shaped it.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Gregory Itzin captures Stevens’ dignified unassuming manner while matching the book’s tonal shifts…Passionate and candid. Itzin’s rendering of the author’s memories of Thurgood Marshall and his civil rights legacy are particularly poignant…A compelling listen.”

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Amanda | 2/20/2014

    " Honestly, I gave up on this one. I couldn't follow it when he jumped around between people and years. Maybe it's just an inability to focus lately.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tom Dillickrath | 1/24/2014

    " Very honest account of Stevemns' interactions with the Chiefs. As a legal history geek, found it fascinating. Could have been a bit more in depth and appending the text of the Constitution was lame b "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Alyssa Crawford | 1/11/2014

    " Interesting history, but the book lacked cohesion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Chris | 1/10/2014

    " Interesting but not always compelling. The focus on the cases decided in the terms was an interesting framing device but the information was often too compacted to get a true understanding of the impact of the cases and a read on the Chiefs who presided over them. "

  • > Show All
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About the Author
Author John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970–1975. President Ford nominated him as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975. Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court on June 29, 2010.