The Ashwander Rules: a Brandeisian Novel


I have been waiting for years for someone to write a novel about Louis D. Brandeis. He was supposedly a fan of detective stories, so a mystery in which Brandeis solved a murder would seem a natural. So far nobody has filled that niche, but my friend Neal Rechtman has come close with his latest novel, The Ashwander Rules.

The Ashwander Rules is a suspense novel about Zeke Sherman, a Senator from West Virginia, who gets caught up in a political conspiracy when he is warned about a possible assassination attempt of the life of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The title itself is obviously a nod to Brandeis, but Rechtman, who describes himself as an “amateur scholar of Brandeis,” suffuses the entire novel with Brandeis’s philosophy. Each chapter is headed with a quote from Brandeis and the novel touches on many themes near and dear to Brandeis’s heart: Zionism, the role of the private citizen, good government and the importance of voting, to name just a few. That Rechtman is able to weave all these threads into a suspenseful story is a testament to his writing.

The novel also serves as an introduction to the American Majority Party, Rechtman’s solution to what he sees as the crippling effects of the two party system on American democracy. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also a couple quick Bridge tutorials.

Fans of Brandeis will find much to chew on here.

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