Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making Human Rights a Reality

Emilie M. Hafner-Burton (University of California, San Diego), Making Human Rights a Reality (Princeton University Press, 2013).

"Emilie Hafner-Burton argues that more progress is possible if human rights promoters work strategically with the group of states that have dedicated resources to human rights protection. These human rights 'stewards' can focus their resources on places where the tangible benefits to human rights are greatest. Success will require setting priorities as well as engaging local stakeholders such as nongovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions. . . . To date, promoters of international human rights law have relied too heavily on setting universal goals and procedures and not enough on assessing what actually works and setting priorities . . . with a different strategy, human rights stewards can make international law more effective and also safeguard human rights for more of the world population."
From publisher's website

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Judging the Boy Scouts of America: Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case

Richard J. Ellis (Willamette University). Judging the Boy Scouts of America (University Press of Kansas, 2014).

"As Americans, we cherish the freedom to associate. However, with the freedom to associate comes the right to exclude those who do not share our values and goals. What happens when the freedom of association collides with the equally cherished principle that every individual should be free from invidious discrimination? This is precisely the question posed in Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, a lawsuit that made its way through the courts over the course of a decade, culminating in 2000 with a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Judging the Boy Scouts of America, Richard J. Ellis tells the fascinating story of the Dale case, placing it in the context of legal principles and precedents, Scouts’ policies, gay rights, and the 'culture wars' in American politics."
—Publisher's Website

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs

Joshua Wolf Shenk. Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

"Society has long romanticised the creative power of the loner, be it the scientist who works all night in a laboratory or the cloistered writer wrapped up in the world of his own imagination. 'For centuries the myth of the lone genius has towered over us like a colossus,' writes Joshua Wolf Shenk at the start of his new book, Powers of Two. Unimpressed, he tries to debunk the idea that 'world-changing things' come from single minds, and makes the controversial claim that it is the 'creative pair', rather than the individual, that has produced the most imaginative work in history."
The Economist

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Family Law Reimagined

Jill Elaine Hasday (University of Minnesota). Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press, 2014).  

"Family Law Reimagined is the first book to evaluate the canonical narratives, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles. These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children's interests over parents' rights.  [This book] reveals how family law's canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue." 
Publisher's Website

Monday, October 6, 2014

Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation

Estelle B. Freedman (Standford University). Redefining Rape (Harvard University Press, 2013).

"Rape has never had a universally accepted definition, and the uproar over 'legitimate rape' during the 2012 U.S. elections confirms that it remains a word in flux. . . . In this ambitious new history, Estelle Freedman demonstrates that our definition of rape has depended heavily on dynamics of political power and social privilege. . . . Between the 1870s and the 1930s, at the height of racial segregation and lynching, and amid the campaign for woman suffrage, women’s rights supporters and African American activists tried to expand understandings of rape in order to gain legal protection from coercive sexual relations, assaults by white men on black women, street harassment, and the sexual abuse of children. By redefining rape, they sought to redraw the very boundaries of citizenship."
Publisher's Website

Friday, October 3, 2014

Getting Incentives Right: Improving Torts, Contracts, and Restitution

Robert D. Cooter (U.C. Berkeley) & Ariel Porat (Tel Aviv University). Getting Incentives Right (Princeton University Press, 2014).

"Lawyers, judges, and scholars have long debated whether incentives in tort, contract, and restitution law effectively promote the welfare of society. If these incentives were ideal, tort law would reduce the cost and frequency of accidents, contract law would lubricate transactions, and restitution law would encourage people to benefit others. Unfortunately, the incentives in these laws lead to too many injuries, too little contractual cooperation, and too few unrequested benefits. Getting Incentives Right explains how law might better serve the social good."

Publisher's Website

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships

Clare Huntington (Fordham University). Failure to Flourish (Oxford University Press, 2014).

"Exploring the connection between families and inequality, Failure to Flourish argues that the legal regulation of families stands fundamentally at odds with the needs of families. Strong, stable, positive relationships are essential for both individuals and society to flourish, but from transportation policy to the criminal justice system, and from divorce rules to the child welfare system, the legal system makes it harder for parents to provide children with these kinds of relationships, exacerbating the growing inequality in America.  [The book] contends that we must re-orient the legal system to help families avoid crises and, when conflicts arise, intervene in a manner that heals relationships. To understand how wrong our family law system has gone and what we need to repair it, Failure to Flourish takes us from ancient Greece to cutting-edge psychological research, and from the chaotic corridors of local family courts to a quiet revolution under way in how services are provided to families in need."
Publisher's Website