. The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin
. The Run of his Life by Jeffrey Toobin
. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
. UnBroken by Laura Hillenbrand
, Defending Jacob by William Landry
I often wonder (and sometimes ask) customers and friends what draws them to choose a particular book cold off a shelf for their next read. Answers are as varied as there are choices and are always interesting to me. My choices are varied as well but usually, when starting from scratch on a new stream of reading the subject leads me from one book to another. My latest choices started with a jury duty notice for me on a murder case. I sat one whole week while a jury was seated. My number was never called but I was fascinated and slightly appalled at the process. So began my next book obsession.
I started with Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine, Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. It starts with the death of William Renquist in 2005 and paints a troubling picture of the power they have and how often it comes down to one person making the decisions on how to interpret laws that have been passed. Whenever a new Justice is seated it can shift the direction of the whole court’s rulings overnight. Issues such as abortion, civil rights and church-state relations have been interpreted by the supreme court in different ways, depending on who those nine judges are, without the original law being changed.
That led me to The Run of His Life, also by Jeffrey Toobin about the O.J. Simpson case. As a journalist he covered the trial for The New Yorker magazine. He was in a unique position to talk to both the Defense Team, Prosecutors, Judge Ito and all the witnesses on both sides. He was in court for the whole trial and was able to observe the jury and report on the unprecedented number of conflicts and removal of jury members during the course of the nine month “ trial of the century”.
Of course my obsession with our system of justice brought me to read other Jeffrey Toobin books: A Vast Conspiracy (about Clinton) and American Heiress (about Patty Hearst). He writes about complex issues but makes them thoroughly understandable and fascinating.
I must mention here that years ago I was reading a lot of true crime books. Ann Rule tells riveting tales which start with descriptions about the place, time, and families of both the victims and perpetrators. She also recaps the trials and the effects of them on the families and the jurors. An interesting side note: Ann Rule used to work with Ted Bundy.
Next focus… World War II. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. In depth reportage of the 1936 Olympics and the boys who rowed to victory over Hitler’s boys. A close look at how this team of nine unlikely winners came to find success through shear hard work and determination and a look into Hitler’s tyrannical hold on the Germany of that era.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand set in 1943 tells the story of a long distance runner who became an airman who crashed in the Pacific and ended up in a life raft miles out to sea. He survived sharks, enemy air craft, near starvation. A miracle of a story and interesting book.
Switching gears again I picked up William Landay’s book – Defending Jacob a mystery (fiction) in which the murder of a young boy is blamed on the son of a District Attorney. It contained a lot of information about the jury trial and that intrigued me. It raises some interesting ethical/moral questions which I am still pondering long after I put the book back on the shelf.
I would love to hear from some of you about your favorite reads…. It may start my next stream of reading.