John Marshall's rugged boyhood years in Fanquier County, Virginia, led to his organization of the Junior Militia in 1775 and to his active role in the Revolutionary War. Nevertheless it never dominated his intellectual interests -- in poetry and the law. In fact, his first experience on the bench took place in Washington's army when Marshall was chosen deputy judge advocate to settle squabbles among the men. After his training at William and Mary College, he took up the practice of law in Virginia and was soon involved in politics. He participated in the XYZ mission and served as Secretary of State under Adams, but it was in his role as Chief Justice that Marshall gained historical recognition. Caroline Tucker explains the circumstances and significance of such decisions as Marbury vs. Malison and McCullech vs. Maryland in order to indicate Marshall's determination to piece the judiciary on an equal footing with the other branches of government. This latter section, rather than the portrait of Marshall, the man, makes the book worthwhile as supplementary history reading.