Given the new Supreme Court led by John Roberts Jr., including Samuel Alito Jr.’s replacement of the “justice in the middle,” Joan Biskupic’s engaging new biography of Sandra Day O’Connor is perfectly timed and focused.

With the possible exception of Justice Harry Blackmun, no other Supreme Court justice enjoys a comparable public reputation for his or her substantive work and place (“in the middle”) on the Court. O’Connor’s unusual prominence also exists, of course, because she made necessary the addition of a feminine pronoun when referring to Supreme Court justices. Biskupic focuses on both aspects of O’Connor’s fame and has aptly subtitled her biography “How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice”.

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