Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason

Norman S. Poser (Brooklyn Law School).  Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013).

"Mr. Poser offers us a fascinating portrait. Awarded an earldom by George III, Mansfield was a typical 18th-century grandee, ruthlessly ambitious and casually venal. His career made him extremely rich, and his guarded political style often appeared unscrupulously calculated to accelerate his own advancement. But his mind was extraordinary, and he worked with legendary intensity. . . . Mansfield's judgments ingrained themselves into the legal culture of the English-speaking world. Modern rules governing the use of expert testimony, for instance, trace to Mansfield.  The U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Poser informs us, has cited Mansfield more than 300 times, on issues from defamation to parental rights." 
—Jeffrey Collins

Monday, December 23, 2013

Charles Dickens in Chancery

E.T. Jacques.  Charles Dickens in Chancery: Being an Account of his Proceedings in Respect of the "Christmas Carol" with Some Gossip in Relation to the Old Law Courts at Westminster (Longmans, Green and Co., 1914). 

An account of Dickens' successful lawsuit against publishers who copied and sold A Christmas Carol (retitled as "A Christmas Ghost Story") without permission.  The appendix includes the original pleadings as well as newspaper articles relating to the case.   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State

Stephen M. Feldman (University of Wyoming).  Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas (New York University Press, 1997).

"In Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas, Stephen M. Feldman . . . argues that the separation of church and state primarily manifests and reinforces Christian domination in American society. Furthermore, Feldman reveals that the separation of church and state did not first arise in the United States. Rather, it has slowly evolved as a political and religious development through western history, beginning with the initial appearance of Christianity as it contentiously separated from Judaism."
—Publisher's website

Monday, December 16, 2013

Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright

Lucas Hilderbrand (UC Irvine). Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright (Duke University Press, 2009). 

“By taking up the theme of analog videotape bootlegging in an era of aggressive digital rights management, Lucas Hilderbrand provides a timely and important window on the issues at stake in the creative commons movement. At the same time, he makes extremely interesting and valuable contributions to scholarship on the aesthetics of new media through his explorations of the affective dimensions of videotape, the implications of its ephemeral quality, and the interactivity its new technologies enabled.”
—Timothy Lenoir, Duke University

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wrap Contracts: Foundations and Ramifications

Nancy S. Kim (California Western). Wrap Contracts: Foundations and Ramifications (Oxford University Press, 2013).

"[Nancy Kim] explains how businesses and existing law unfairly burden users and create a coercive contracting environment that forces users to 'accept' in order to participate in modern life.  Kim's central thesis is that how a contract is presented affects and reveals the intent of the parties.  She proposes doctrinal solutions to fairly balance the burdens of wrap contracts between businesses and consumers."
Wrap Contracts book jacket  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy

Stephen B. Wicker (Cornell University). Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy (Oxford University Press, 2013).  

"Cellular technology has always been a surveillance technology, but 'cellular convergence'—the tendency for all forms of communication to devolve onto the cellular handset—has dramatically increased the impact of that surveillance. . . . The story [Wicker] tells is one of a technology that is changing the face of politics and economics, but in ways that remain highly uncertain." 
Cellular Convergence book jacket

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Adam Sitze (Amherst College). The Impossible Machine (The University of Michigan Press, 2013).

"Adam Sitze meticulously traces the origins of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to two well-established instruments of colonial and imperial governance: the jurisprudence of indemnity and the commission of inquiry. This genealogy provides a fresh, though counterintuitive, understanding of the TRC's legal, political, and cultural importance. The TRC's genius, Sitze contends, is not the substitution of 'forgiving' restorative justice for 'strict' legal justice but rather the innovative adaptation of colonial law, sovereignty, and government."
The Impossible Machine book jacket

Overcoming Historical Injustices: Land Reconciliation in South Africa

James L. Gibson (Washington University, St. Louis). Overcoming Historical Injustices: Land Reconciliation in South Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Overcoming Historical Injustices is the last entry in James L. Gibson's 'overcoming' trilogy on South Africa's transformation from apartheid to democracy. Focusing on the issue of historical land dispossessions - the taking of African land under colonialism and apartheid - this book investigates the judgments South Africans make about the fairness of their country's past.”
—Cambridge University Press website

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food

Timothy D. Lytton (Albany Law School). Kosher (Harvard University Press, 2013).  

"Kosher is one terrific book. It's a wonderfully entertaining account of the squabbles, finger-pointing, and cutthroat competition that turned kosher certification from scandalous corruption to a respectableand highly profitable—business.  Today, if food is labeled kosher, it is kosher, which is more than can be said of most claims on food labels." 
—Marion Nestle, New York University

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court

Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School). In the Balance (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013).

"Covering the legal philosophies that have informed decisions on major cases such as the Affordable Care Act, the Voting Rights Act, and DOMA; the political structures behind Court appointments; and the face-off between John Roberts and Elena Kagan for intellectual dominance of the Court, In the Balance is a must-read for anyone looking for fresh insight into the Court's impact on the everyday lives of Americans."
In the Balance book jacket.

Reimagining To Kill a Mockingbird: Family, Community, and the Possibility of Equal Justice Under Law

Austin Sarat & Martha Merrill Umphrey (Amherst College). Reimagining To Kill a Mockingbird (University
of Massachusetts Press, 2013).

"Fifty years after the release of the film version of Harper Lee's acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird, this collection of original essays takes a fresh look at a classic text through the interdisciplinary lens of law and humanities scholarship.  The readings peel back the film's visual representation of the many-layered social world of Maycomb, Alabama, offering sometimes counterintuitive insights through the prism of provocative contemporary theoretical and interpretive questions."

Reimagining To Kill a Mockingbird book jacket

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age

Susan Crawford (Cardozo Law School). Captive Audience (Yale University Press, 2013).

"Crawford’s book is the most important volume to be released in the last few years that describes the sad — some might say embarrassing – state of the U.S. telecommunications market. Reasonable people can and do disagree about policy solutions, but the facts are not in dispute. [A] vivid and eye-opening description of what ails America’s cable and telecom market, … it should be required reading for anyone interested in tech policy."
Sam Gustin, TIME

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Animal Trials

Edward Payson Evans (University of Michigan). Animal Trials (Hesperus Press Limited, 2013; first published in 1906).

"Including trials in Germany, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Russia dating back as far as 824, Animal Trials provides a fascinating insight into the bygone era, addressing important social issues and religious questions, which remain just as relevant today such as animal rights and capital punishment.  Payson Evans' wry attitude to the material only increases the peculiar nature of the work, making it a truly intriguing read."
Animal Trials book jacket  

Monday, November 18, 2013

American Epic: Reading the Constitution

Garrett Epps (University of Baltimore School of Law). American Epic: Reading the Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2013). 

"Epps has written another masterpiece.  He takes us on a wondrous journey through the Constitution exploring every word of the remarkable document that so many venerate but few actually read.  Even the most devoted student of the Constitution will find much to learn.  American Epic is a revealing, thought-provoking, and wonderfully written examination of American's foundational text."
—Adam Winkler, UCLA School of Law

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

Erika Lee (University of Minnesota) & Judy Yung (University of California). Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (Oxford University Press, 2010).

"A place of heartrending history and breathtaking beauty, the Angel Island Immigration Station is a National Historic Landmark, and like Ellis Island, it is recognized as one of the most important sites where America’s immigration history was made. This fascinating history is ultimately about America itself and its complicated relationship to immigration, a story that continues today.”
Angel Island book jacket

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hate Thy Neighbor: Move-In Violence and the Persistence of Racial Segregation in American Housing

Jeannine Bell (Indiana University).  Hate Thy Neighbor (New York University Press, 2013).

"Puts an unsparing spotlight on one of the least discussed yet most intractable barriers to full civil rights for all Americans. . . . Stunning and tragic. . . . Hate Thy Neighbor is both empirical and poignant.  Her proposals for how to address this enduring scandal will, without any doubt, launch new reflection, new movements, new hope."
—Patricia J. Williams, Columbia Law School

Friday, November 8, 2013

States of the Union: Family and Change in the American Constitutional Order

Mark E. Brandon (Vanderbilt University). States of the Union (University Press of Kansas, 2013).

"A timely, substantive, and deeply engaging book that brilliantly analyzes the ever-changing place of families in American culture and law from colonial settlement to the contemporary debate over the constitutionality of gay marriage."
—David S. Tanenhaus, Boyd School of Law

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat

William G. Howell (University of Chicago), Saul P. Jackman (Brookings Institution) & Jon C. Rogowski (Washington University). The Wartime President (The University of Chicago Press, 2013).

The Wartime President offers a compelling, original theory of how war affects presidential power. By demonstrating through rigorous empirical analysis that war empowers the president when it leads the public and members of Congress to focus on national concerns rather than local priorities, William G. Howell, Saul P. Jackman, and Jon C. Rogowski dramatically advance our understanding of the presidency and of our separation of powers system.”
Eric Schickler, University of California, Berkeley

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Action

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson (David A. Clarke School of Law).  Why Jury Duty Matters (New York University Press, 2013).

"Ferguson lucidly describes the history of the jury and explains why juries play such a critical role in the contemporary American system of justice.  Copies should be placed in the jury assembly rooms of every courthouse."
 Neil Vidmar, Duke University School of Law  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Soul of Creativity: Forging a Moral Rights Law for the United States

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall (DePaul University College of Law). The Soul of Creativity: Forging a Moral Rights Law for the United States (Stanford University Press, 2009).

"Professor Kwall makes a refreshing and persuasive argument for clearer legal rights of recognition for authors, and she reaches far beyond studies that justify conventional moral rights. Kwall gracefully unites perspectives from literature, art, philosophy, and religion to reveal surprising deficiencies in the law and the complications of finding solutions.”
–Kenneth D. Crews, Columbia University

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The End(s) of Community: History, Sorvereignty, and the Question of Law

Joshua Ben David Nichols (University of Victoria).  The End(s) of Community: History, Sovereignty, and the Question of Law (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013).

"This book stems from an examination of how Western philosophy has accounted for the foundations of law.  In this tradition, the character of the "sovereign" or "lawgiver" has provided the solution to this problem.  But how does the sovereign acquire the right to found law?  As soon as we ask this question we are immediately confronted with a convoluted combination of jurisprudence and theology."
The End(s) of Community book jacket

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Water: Asia’s New Battleground

Brahma Chellaney. Water: Asia’s New Battleground (Georgetown University Press, 2011).

Water: Asia’s New Battleground is a pioneering study of Asia’s murky water politics and relationships among freshwater, peace, and security. In this unique and highly readable book, Brahma Chellaney expertly paints a larger picture of water across Asia, highlights the security implications of resource-linked territorial disputes, and proposes real strategies to avoid conflict and more equitably share Asia’s water resources.”
Water: Asia’s New Battleground book jacket


David Healy (Cardiff University). Pharmageddon (University of California Press, 2012).

“David Healy’s comprehensive and forceful argument against the pharmaceuticalization of medicine is a searing indictment of problems in health care that are leading to a growing number of deaths and disabilities. Healy… attributes our current state of affairs to three key factors: product rather than process patents on drugs, the classification of certain drugs as prescription-only, and industry-controlled drug trials.”
Pharmageddon Book Jacket

Changes of State: Nature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law

Annabel S. Brett (University of Cambridge). Changes of State: Nature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law (Princeton University Press, 2011).

"With authority and grace, Annabel Brett reconstructs a richly challenging tradition of early modern reflection on human agency and political community. Her unfailingly acute and original analyses of the arguments of, among others, Vitoria, Soto, Suárez, Grotius, and Hobbes will be a revelation to political theorists, philosophers, and historians alike, and will decisively inform contemporary discussions of liberty, rights, and the fate of the state."
—David Armitage, Harvard University