These four fascinating new nonfiction books are just hitting shelves.
“The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right” by Michael J. Graetz and Linda Greenhouse (Simon and Schuster: 480 pp., $30)
Although the Burger court is often viewed as a backwater in Supreme Court history, the authors argue that the court Warren Burger led from 1969-86 was more than a transitional moment between the aggressively liberal Warren court and the aggressively conservative Rehnquist and Roberts eras. Columbia Law School professor Graetz and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Greenhouse, who covered the Supreme Court for the New York Times, teamed to produce this engaging and authoritative look at a court that produced highly influential rulings on race, civil liberties and much more.
“Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality” by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell (William Morrow: 304 pp., $27.99)
When Ohio refused to recognize the marriage of Obergefell and his partner — who was dying of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Obergefell was determined to see that same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states. He did just that — when the Supreme Court found in his favor in 2015 in the landmark case of Obergefell vs. Hodges — and made history. Now, Obergefell has teamed up with Cenziper, a Pulitzer-winning Washington Post investigative journalist, to detail the drama and the players — lawyers, activists and judges. Their gripping narrative conveys how the fatal illness of one man and the question for justice of another led to the important decision that said the right to marry applies to all Americans.
“The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison” by Mikita Brottman (Harper: 272 pp., $26.99)
Professor Brottman was on sabbatical when she undertook running a reading group for inmates at the maximum-security Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland, which included discussions of books such as Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” This memoir’s energy emanates from Brottman’s sharp understanding of group dynamics and her determination to avoid clichés. She delves into the personal stories of the men she met behind bars, and is clear-eyed both about literature’s powers and its limitations.
“Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul” by Clara Bingham (Random House: 656 pp., $30)
For this oral history of America in the 1960s and early 1970s, former Newsweek White House correspondent Bingham interviewed more than 100 people who were part of the tumultuous era. Bingham focuses on some of the most dramatic episodes of a dramatic time, when hippies, dropouts and anti-Vietnam War activists united to create a nationwide anti-conformist movement — and faced fervent opposition. Bingham interviewed prominent leaders — Daniel Ellsberg and Jane Fonda, among others – and tracked down many more who have long been overlooked. The kaleidoscopic effect of these stories is engrossing and inspiring.
The National Book Review is an independent online book review founded by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor.