Monday, April 8, 2013

Judge Sandra Day O’Connor’s New Book, Out Of Order, Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

I've finished reading Sandra Day O’Connor’s new book, Out Of Order. I wanted to read it because I, too, have a book called Out Of Order. This is not the first time I had the honor and privilege of sharing a title with another author. My first book, Your Home Office, was a guide to working at home. Two other people who tried to write guides to working at home also chose the title, your home office. And the phrase also appeared as a subtitle for several DIY home project books.
I found 12 books entitled Out Of Order on Amazon. I know there are more. I just got tired of clicking to the next page. The essential question is what, aside from title, to Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order and Norman Schreiber’s Out Of Order have in common?
Of course, comparisons are odious. It’s all apples and oranges, pomegranates and kumquats, etc. etc. Hers falls into the history category. Mine is a funny, some might even say delightful, novel. I truly enjoyed her book. While Robert Caro and Doris Kearns Goodwin have nothing to worry about, Justice O’Connor’s book is a breezy history of how the Supreme Court started as a nearly ad hoc workaround and evolved into a mature, significant institution.
Okay, Sometimes it has the whiff of a cheerful after dinner speech. Sometimes it reads like the narration of a travelogue they made you watch in middle school auditorium on a rainy day. But mostly it is a collection of “did you knows?” And “imagine thats” about the Supreme Court. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a rigorous or scholarly or encyclopedic study. It is an engaging, pleasant, well-constructed history that is modestly offered and gratefully received. While not aimed at, or needed, by the serious jurisprudence aficionado, Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order provides background and context for the rest of us.
She mentions that “… Justice Breyer drew particularly ‘raucous laughter and Howls’ for a remark he made in a fourth amendment case.”  the subsequent explanation did not seem like a real knee–slapper to me, but I guess you had to be there.
And now for the comparison part of our program. Her book recounts the stories of presidents, generals, senators and, of course, judges. Mine is mostly populated by the residents of a Prospect Heights, Brooklyn co-op apartment building. Her book starts on page 3 and runs to page 165, and there is a seven-page introduction. Appended to the book are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, back notes and an index. These all run to page 233. My Out Of Order starts on page 1 and runs to page 221. Hers mentions many legal cases inspired by a goodly number of crimes. Mine has a few crimes and the intimation of court proceedings to come. Her Out Of Order was on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list on March 24, 2013. My Out Of Order is a funny novel. Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order is available in hardcover, Kindle and audio. My Out Of Order, the funny novel, is available in trade paperback and Kindle.

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