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.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve always like Gerald Postema’s two articles on “Classical Common Law Jurisprudence,” Part 1, Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2: 155-180, Spring 2003. SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=462941

    And…Part 2, Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1: 1-28, Summer 2003. SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=462942

  2. Adam says:

    I’m not a lawyer, am fascinated by the history and emergence of the law, and would love to read this. That price is too bad. I would gobble it up at $30, think at $40, but there’s no way I can justify the foregone alternatives at $130.