Drawing on exclusive interviews and first-time access to Justice O’Connor’s archives, New York Times bestselling biographer Evan Thomas paints an inspiring and authoritative picture of America’s first female Supreme Court justice in FIRST: Sandra Day O’Connor
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 law school class in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O’Connor’s story is not that of a woman who surrendered to the status quo—it is the story of a woman who thrived on the challenge of shattering glass ceilings.
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 President Ronald Reagan appointed her, the first female Justice, to the United States Supreme Court in 1981, she began a pioneering quarter-century on the bench, hearing cases that ultimately advanced and defined 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.
In FIRST, Thomas illustrates how Justice O’Connor not only built a bridge forward for all women, but also served as a beacon for how our public officials should serve their country: her life offers a roadmap for when to fight and when to concede, for how to love and when to say goodbye.
EVAN THOMAS is the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestselling John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, and Being Nixon. Thomas was a writer, correspondent, and editor for thirty-three years at Time and Newsweek, including ten years as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek, where, at the time of his retirement in 2010, he was editor at large. He wrote more than one hundred cover stories and in 1999 won a National Magazine Award. He wrote Newsweek's election specials in 1996, 2000, 2004 (winner of the National Magazine Award), and 2008. He appears on many TV and radio talk shows, including Meet the Press and Morning Joe. Thomas has taught writing and journalism at Harvard and Princeton, where, from 2007-14, he was Ferris Professor of Journalism.