She was born in 1930 in El Paso and grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona. At a time when women were expected to be homemakers, she set her sights on Stanford University. When she graduated near the top of her class at law school in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O'Connor's story is that of a woman who repeatedly shattered glass ceilings--doing so with a blend of grace, wisdom, humor, understatement, and cowgirl toughness. She became the first-ever female majority leader of a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona State Court of Appeals, she stood up to corrupt lawyers and humanized the law. When she arrived at the Supreme Court, appointed by Reagan in 1981, she began a quarter-century tenure on the court, hearing cases that ultimately shaped American law. Diagnosed with cancer at fifty-eight, and caring for a husband with Alzheimer's, O'Connor endured every difficulty with grit and poise. Women and men today will be inspired by how to be first in your own life, how to know when to fight and when to walk away, through O'Connor's example. This is a remarkably vivid and personal portrait of a woman who loved her family and believed in serving her country, who, when she became the most powerful woman in America, built a bridge forward for the women who followed her.
"Although a child of a flinty Arizona desert ranch, O'Connor was equally at home in Washington, D.C.'s glittering country clubs and salons. The dichotomy of her existence was one that served her well, providing her with the grit and determination to blaze trails as a woman in what was then known as a man's profession, the law. It also gave her the ability to inform a broad and empathic view of life's most complex problems, from racial and gender inequality to reproductive rights to freedom of speech. O'Connor's 1981 appointment as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court was the culmination of a hard-fought battle for professional advancement, beginning with an unpaid position in a county district attorney's office and culminating in becoming the first woman majority leader in Arizona's state senate. By thoroughly mining O'Connor's archives and interviewing the trail-blazing justice's family, friends, and former clerks, the award-winning Thomas (Ike's Bluff, 2012) creates a fully realized portrait of this heroic, stalwart, and pioneering lawyer and Supreme Court justice, whose contributions to American jurisprudence are legendary and enduring.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Historian Thomas (Being Nixon) offers a well-sourced and sympathetic biography of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and frequently the tie-breaking vote in pivotal decisions on divisive social issues. Utilizing Supreme Court internal records and interviews with his subject and many of her clerks, friends, and family, Thomas draws a three-dimensional portrait of O'Connor that reflects the importance of her personal relationships, as well as the judicial philosophy she employed to craft her opinions on such issues as a woman's right to choose, affirmative action, and the separation of church and state. Thomas identifies O'Connor's genius in her pragmatism, her ability to look beyond abstract legal concepts and instead focus on how the outcome of a particular ruling would affect the litigants and the public at large. Readers will appreciate the gossipy intrigues of the Supreme Court, including the mutual dislike between O'Connor and Antonin Scalia that was kept under a lid at work, but became obvious during a doubles tennis match. In 2006, O'Connor resigned from the Court to care for her husband, who was suffering from Alzheimer's, and the years after her resignation are poignantly and affectingly described. This insightful account is worthy of its subject. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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