Snyder is well equipped to write his first full-length biography, having written a previous book on the Progressive Era boardinghouse known as the House of Truth, an incubator of 20th-century liberalism where Frankfurter got his start in Washington. Yet it’s striking how little Frankfurter’s vision of courts changed as he advanced through the ranks of the meritocracy ... Snyder tells this story in a generally neutral narrative voice but with great detail, collecting every wicked diary entry and self-aggrandizing letter in order to let Frankfurter speak for himself ... That’s to Snyder’s credit, but not always to Frankfurter’s: His lack of self-awareness and failure to produce memorable judicial opinions make him a less than compelling advocate for his own case. By the end of the book, the reader feels like Frankfurter’s wife, Marion, who told a law clerk: 'Do you know what it’s like to be married to a man who is never tired?' ... The book’s accounts of Frankfurter’s personal experiences with antisemitism during the war are memorable.
Brad Snyder’s comprehensive, compelling, and generally admiring biography arrives at a moment when the justice’s stock may, in some quarters, seem poised for a rebound ... Snyder challenges conventional assessments of Frankfurter by skillfully placing him into the rich, changing context of American liberalism during the first six decades of the 20th century ... Snyder’s portrait of Frankfurter certainly cannot be accused of concealing the justice’s rather substantial warts. Snyder does, however, cast him in a flattering light, depicting the justice largely as he depicted himself—as a champion of democracy, and therefore an opponent of juristocracy.
... superb ... Specialists will be especially interested in reading about Frankfurter’s years on the Court and his relationships with other justices ... Most general readers will be fascinated by Frankfurter’s essential strengths as a man of character and integrity who used his 'gift for friendship, eye for talent, and passion for public service to create the liberal establishment' ... Deeply researched and written with authority, Snyder’s book examines virtually every aspect of Frankfurter’s career and, despite its length, remains wonderfully readable and accessible ... an eye for telling details ... A monumental account of a life in public service, Democratic Justice is welcome reading for our troubled time.