PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a haunting and harrowing indictment of the deep psychological damage inflicted by the nation’s punitive structures ... Montross is a gifted, often compelling storyteller ... Montross traveled extensively across this country, bearing witness to how jails and prisons both initiate and intensify mental illness. The strongest portions of her searing book appear in its parade of alarming vignettes. I will not soon forget some of her grotesque images ... Montross’s typically formidable narrative skills sometimes go awry, most notably when she shoehorns herself and her family into the story...Such passages needlessly distract from the gravity of her subject ... This tendency reaches its nadir in the book’s conclusion, where Montross recollects writing at a lake cottage during winter and wrestling with how to handle a coyote outside her window that is behaving strangely. The episode stretches over five pages and produces at best a modest payoff: a belabored analogy for society’s response to the spectacle of mental illness, the way we allow fear and a desire for control to overcome more humane impulses. Waiting for an Echo would have been improved had these discursions been excised ... Montross’s travelogue-based approach may also leave some readers pining for a comprehensive treatment of this issue, one more attentive to scholarly debate ... Yet Montross’s stumbles should not overshadow her significant achievement. I hope that she successfully pricks the nation’s conscience about our shameful punishment of mental illness. It is impossible to read her captivating account without concluding that our various departments of corrections are themselves in intense need of correcting.
Michael J. Graetz & Linda Greenhouse
PositiveThe Washington Post...[an] ambitious and engaging new book ... Instead of comparing the Burger court only with its institutional predecessor, the authors also examine the institution in light of its two successors: the Rehnquist court, beginning in 1986, and the Roberts court, beginning in 2005...As the authors contend, 'Warren Burger’s Court played a crucial role in establishing the conservative legal foundation for the even more conservative Courts that followed' ... Graetz and Greenhouse’s work serves as an important corrective, demonstrating that the Burger court demands far more sustained scrutiny and analysis than legal scholarship has generally afforded it ... For all its considerable virtues, the book sometimes strains to construe the Burger court as a relentlessly conservatizing force instead of the more heterodox institution that it actually was ... Still, even when the book’s arguments may not fully persuade, they invariably provoke serious thought on how legal decisions made in our nation’s relatively recent past could have assumed a radically different form.