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Extended Audio Sample Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court, by Jeff Shesol Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (153 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeff Shesol Narrator: Mel Foster Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Supreme Power is an extraordinary book that rings with relevance for our time. One of the most eloquent historians of his generation, Jeff Shesol has a deep understanding of the presidency, and the interplay of politics, personalities, and principles, all of which he brings to life in this rich, remarkable book. Full of surprises and new insights—each rendered in clear and confident prose—this book is about more than FDR’s plan to pack the Court. It’s about America’s enduring struggle to reconcile our founders’ ideals with conflicting challenges in our constant pursuit to build a more perfect union.”

    President Bill Clinton

  • Supreme Power is by far the most detailed—and most riveting—account of this extraordinary event…an impressive and engaging book—an excellent work of narrative history. It is deeply researched and beautifully written.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “With insight and more than occasional humor, Shesol covers all aspects of the controversy, deftly explaining the issues at stake in a variety of legal opinions and shrewdly analyzing the intra-Court dynamics.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gabe | 11/23/2013

    " A bit dry accounting for a very critical moment in FDR's administration. It is at its best in the biographical accounting of the main players (Wheeler, Cummings, Roberts, Holmes, Robinson, etc.). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Queenie | 11/16/2013

    " Humongous and not my usual style. But written by the friend of a friend -- and surprisingly good. Was my bedtime companion for quite a while. So lonely now without FDR in bed with me . . . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paula Matuskey | 7/15/2013

    " Activities preceding and surrounding FDR's efforts to pack the Supreme Court. Good history of the 20th century Supreme Court. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sabrina | 3/19/2013

    " This book was very good. I felt like it covered the episode fairly. I also like that it didn't make FDR out to be a saint, nor to be a madman. It also helped to understand current politics and how political minds think to get changes in society and to help society, or their way of helping. "

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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, Shesol 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. He continues to publish widely under his own byline and appears frequently on television and radio. A Rhodes Scholar, Shesol got his master’s 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. He lives in Washington with his wife and their two children.

About the Narrator

Mel Foster is a prolific audiobook narrator, having read dozens of titles throughout his career. He is the recipient of the prestigious Audie Award, as well as the AudioFile Earphones Award. A former advertising agency executive who used to record test tracks for commercials, his narration career was born out of encouragement from his clients who would often say, “why are we hiring someone else? I like this guy.”