History of the Common Law
One of the best classes that I ever took (in college or law school) was John Langbein’s “History of the Common Law.” Professor Langbein’s lectures were always fascinating and exceptionally lucid, partly because of the care (that I didn’t really understand then but do now) that he took with organizing and editing the course materials.
Now he (along with Bruce Smith and Renee Lerner) has produced a textbook from those materials. The coverage is phenomenal–the writ system, the origins of jury trial, the law of torture, Star Chamber, church courts, legal education, the Year Books, and Equity among other things. (They ignored maritime practice before the Lord High Admiral, but hey, no book is perfect). Moreover, the book looks terrific, with lots of illustrations and excerpts from original documents. It’s not inexpensive and you can’t get in on a Kindle, but this is something that is worth putting on your shelf.