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Breaking in: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In Breaking In, veteran journalist Joan Biskupic tells the story of how two forces providentially merged-the large ambitions of a talented Puerto Rican girl raised in the projects in the Bronx and the increasing political presence of Hispanics, from California to Texas, from Florida to the Northeast-resulting in a historical appointment. And this is not just a tale about b ...more
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Published December 16th 2014 by Tantor Audio (first published October 7th 2014)
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Feisty Harriet
This is probably a little closer to a 3.5 star rating, minus one full star (from 5) for quoting so much of Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World, during the first half of the book. However, the last third of the book, detailing Sotomayor's cases and time in the Supreme Court, was fascinating. I doubt a first-person account would go into the kind of back-and-forth and arguments that happened during various cases, and being able to read about those details as well as reactions from other politicians and ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 / 5 stars
Ana Yarí
Sonia Sotomayor is a fascinating and important public figure. Her life journey is inspiring to some and a reflection on the strength of working hard with the opportunities you're given. She's the first Latin@ to serve on the Supreme Court and her appointment was full of controversy. While this book is interesting, I don't think Biskupic goes in depth enough regarding her subject. I was especially disappointed in how little Biskupic goes into Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination and how against R ...more
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My Beloved World" was one of my favorite books last year. This was excellent follow up, filling in the gaps about Justice Sotomayor professional career. While here memoir focused more on her upbringing and peersonal like, "Breaking In" shows us her path, and how she was assisted, from law student, to assistanct DA, boutique firm lawyer, etc. I think the two books balance each other well.

It was also very interesting to learn more about the deals made in making a nomination to the Sup
David Riggins
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has become a momentous figure in American politics both in terms of her advocacy for affirmative action policies and as the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, an appointee of our first African American President. Rarely does a Supreme Court Justice capture the attention of the masses but Justice Sotomayor has become an inspiration for Hispanics and women of all races. Ambitious and indomitable, Sotomayor is unapologetic in her support of affirmati ...more
This books was one part biography and one part a racial history for Hispanics in the 20th century in America. While I certainly learned a great deal about a subject I should know more about, I never felt that this was easy reading. It was repetitive in places and it never seemed like the author ever truly warmed up to her subject. She has great respect for what Sotomayor was able to accomplish, but there was always an asterisk about how she approached the job. While the author didn't directly cr ...more
Dale Wyant
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was glad to learn more about this "wise Latina woman." If you look at recent court decisions, of course the justices bring their backgrounds into play when deciding cases. Biskupic has a depth of experience covering the Supreme Court which makes her books all the more believable and readable.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read Justice Sotomayor's autobiography but I'll be sure to now. This is yet another false start to what felt like a very promising read.
A good biography should build a narrative that evokes empathy, making the reader feel as though they're walking through the subject's life shoulder to shoulder. This is not a good biography. There's a voyeurism here that feels more like you're peeking through a grimy window, haphazardly and crudely connecting the dots of your observation. I'm surprise
Daniela Castañeda
"Whether it was due to the indeterminate color of my skin or my very determined personality, I moved easily between different worlds [of color]."

"You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others,"
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had already read her autobiography so knew much of what was the first 2/3 of the book. this one relied too much on that autobiography and not enough on original research.

Completely skipped over the confirmation hearings, which was very contentious. Sometimes it seemed like it was written as a series of magazine articles instead of a coherent work which was I think there was so much repetition

Not sure i like her as much as I did. At times, she seemed more interested in her book tou
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was interesting in that it presented something I had never thought about: the political process entailed in the choosing of a supreme court justice. And believe me, the book makes clear that it is an extremely political process. Which for me throws a lot of light on the recent congress dawdling over approving Obama's nominated justice. All I can say is that I want Democrats to win both the presidency and in the Senate and House so that we will continue with enlightened justices. I shu ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I was pleasantly surprised. Inspiring story to say the least.
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hcl, supreme-court
Wonderful. Excellent context for her career and temperament.
Alex Sharfman
This is the first biography of our first Latina Justice of the Supreme Court and, as a devoted fan of Sonia Sotomayor, I of course had to read this when I first discovered its existence. Two years after the publication date, this biography proves prescient in the trajectory it sketches for her career. Biskupic argues that Sotomayor's place on the court is less the consensus builder and more the stubborn and somewhat idiosyncratic liberal; a sort of counterweight to Clarence Thomas. Particularly ...more
Joan Biskupic received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School and is the legal reporter for Reuters. She has written biographies of Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia. Biskupic says this book is not exactly a biography of Sonia Sotomayor but a parallel narrative to trace the growing influences of the Hispanic population in the United States.

Reading this book I learned about the 1954 Supreme Court case of Hernandez V Texas, which gave protection against discrimination for people of “Me
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
The emphasis on politics is what stands out most in Breaking In, as its subtitle suggests -- The Politics of Justice and the Rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Journalist Joan Biskupic, who has covered the Supreme Court since 1989, looks at how Sonia Sotomayor rose from childhood in the projects of the Bronx to becoming a justice on the Supreme Court.

It's a good story, but one that's been told in Sotomayor's autobiography, as well as in numerous news reports at the time of her nomination to th
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Sotomayor's autobiography not long ago, and this book complements it well. The focus is on affirmative action because it significantly impacted Sotomayor's life and work. I found myself wondering what exactly my position is on affirmative action and other methods to achieve racial and ethnic diversity in various settings, notably educational settings. There are some fun moments that describe in more detail Sotomayor's personality and willingness to be herself despite her role filled with ...more
I was very interested in ms. Sotomayors story. When she became a justice I was glad for her appointment and the inclusion of Hispanics in our government. I really didn't know her story and found it very compelling. I will say however by the end of the book I really didn't like her much. Of course everyone has their own opinion. I thought her request to move Joe Bidens inauguration because of her book tour insulting. Seemed like her priorities were askew. I also found her constantly referring to ...more

The first half to two thirds of the book is material that is commonly available and much published in Sotomayor's own book. To her credit, she does provide some analysis of portions of the information.

About the last third is an analysis of the subject's performance on the judicial bench of the Supreme Court. That increases in its value as the author moves toward the end of the book. This part was my reason for reading the book -- how has Sotomayor performed?

Biskopic's analysis is mixed. She gi
Oct 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best part about this book was its tell-all inside story about what it takes to rise to the ranks of a Supreme Court justice. In Sonia's case, the politicking was extensive and ongoing, involving many political favors, and in the end, a bit of luck. The worst part about this book is that it ended too soon. From reading Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, I know what shapes her decision-making, in general, but I want to know more. Sonia is really "one-of-a-kind" as far as Supreme Court justices go, so I ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book because it tells the story of Sonya Sotomayor which she herself wrote about in her autobiography. But it went further in explaining the politics of a Supreme Court appointment and how much is planned years in advance for each interest group to put forth their own favorite candidate. I continue to be interested in this topic and will read more about the workings of the Surpreme Court. I need to feel that I have learned something from each book and feel satisfied that I learned ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Not actually a memoir, but a biography. If it were a memoir, I am fairly sure I would have enjoyed it more. The book is well-written, but I was left wanting more of the first part, the story of Justice Sotomayor's life before becoming part of the Supreme Court and less of the politics. That said, I also really admire her politics and the book is a solid look into the way she professes her political beliefs in her position. A remarkable woman, a simply goo ...more
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had enjoyed both Sonia Sotomayor's memoir and Joan Biskupic's participation on "Washington Week," as well as interviews of her on her book about Anton Scalia, so I eagerly delved into Breaking In. But I was disappointed. Biskupic apparently lacks respect for Sotomayor, and lent little new information to the book if one had read the Sotomayor memoir. Sotomayor is a different voice; that is the point. That she ruffles some feathers is to be expected. I was disappointed in this relatively light t ...more
This biography of Sonia Sotomayor briefly covers her childhood and education before moving on to her career. A great deal of attention is given to Supreme Court nominees from the Bush 43 administration on, as well as controversial cases where Sotomayor took a stand. All in all, I liked this quite well but if I had it to do over again, would probably opt for Sotomayor’s memoir instead.
Cody Knapp
This should be read immediately after Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. It is a good supplement to the memoir, which stops whenever Sotomayor begins here career as a judge. While the author fails to provide much meaningful analysis of her subject, she does well in recounting the path that Sotomayor took from the Bronx to the Court.
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not just a retelling of Sotomayor's extraordinary life, Breaking In delves into the rise of Latinos in the US as a political force, the divisions and uneasy alliances among groups that represent different national origins, and the politics behind Supreme Court nominations. Anyone with an interest in recent political history will enjoy this book.
Geoffrey Bateman
Fascinating and engaging account of Sotomayor's life and career as a judge and thus far as a Supreme Court justice. Biskupic's analysis of Sotomayor's own savvy sense of politics, as well as her focus on issues related to race, ethnicity, class, and genrder--both personal and political--were insightful. Overall, a very accessible read.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
This book was free on hoopla. For that reason, I chose it instead of Sotomayor's own book, which many people said was markedly better. I wish I had gotten Sotomayor's book instead, but I still learned a lot about her and the justice system at large from this biography.
Dec 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book. I like that it focused on on Sotomayor's rising career instead of repeating what was already done in "My Beloved World." I learned about who the other Latino candidates were pre-Sotomayor as well as other Supreme Court Justices.
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-2015
Book club will have some things to talk about. : )
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JOAN BISKUPIC has covered the Supreme Court since 1989. Previously the Supreme Court reporter for The Washington Post, she is the legal affairs correspondent for USA Today, a frequent panelist on PBS’s Washington Week, and the author of Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter.
“She did not retreat in humiliation. She did not turn bitter. She developed her own mantra: 'How am I not going to let this beat me?' In later years she would tell students, 'You have to get up and try again. That's sometimes really hard to do, when you get embarrassed over failure.” 2 likes
“[John H.] Sununu promised Republicans that the relatively obscure [David H.] Souter would be a 'home run for conservatives,' but this prediction could not have been more wrong. Souter ended up being one of the liberal members of the Court during the late 1990s and the 2000s, which prompted a 'no more Souters' mantra among conservatives.” 1 likes
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