The authoritative biography of Sandra Day O’Connor, America’s first female Supreme Court justice, drawing on exclusive interviews and first-time access to Justice O’Connor’s archives—by the New York Times bestselling author Evan Thomas.
... fascinating and revelatory ... The book is billed as an 'intimate portrait' of O’Connor, and it certainly is ... Thomas makes the most of this bounty, producing a richly detailed picture of [O'Connor's] personal and professional life ... Thomas avoids the case-by-case death march that is the plague of judicial biographies, and by focusing on a handful of decisions he gives a clear sense of how she understood her role ... Thomas pretty much lets O’Connor off the hook for her shabbiest moment on the court — her decisive role in the 5-to-4 travesty that was Bush v. Gore ... Evan Thomas’s book is not just a biography of a remarkable woman, but an elegy for a worldview that, in law as well as politics, has disappeared from the nation’s main stages.
...illuminating and eminently readable ... Thomas vividly sketches the attributes [O'Connor] used to clear the high barriers to female ascendancy ... In Thomas’s more generous interpretation, O’Connor’s judicial 'minimalism' flowed naturally from a realpolitik she’d honed as, well, a real politician ... The scenes of O’Connor retiring early to help care for husband as he struggles with Alzheimer’s are poignant; the news of her own diagnosis with that same brutal disease even more so ... Thomas gives O’Connor the credit she deserves.
...a book about a life more than a book about a judge ... From the many cases in which O’Connor participated, Thomas wisely emphasizes those that illustrate either her influence on the Court or an important turning point in her tenure ... Thomas’s description of O’Connor’s motivation [in Bush v. Gore] is plausible ... In the pages of this fine biography, we see O’Connor emerge as exceptional not only for being the first female Supreme Court justice, but for standing astride an ever-widening ideological gulf.