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Law in America: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles) [Hardcover]

By Lawrence M. Friedman (Author)
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Item description for Law in America: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Lawrence M. Friedman...

Outline ReviewAlthough, in the eyes of many, the law "moves slowly and sluggishly" behind society's advances, Lawrence M. Friedman, in Law in America, a historical overview from colonial times to the present, posits that this is an "illusion." As surely as culture creates law, law creates culture. The American legal system--a bubbling mlange of common ("judge-made") and civil (derived from codes) law--is a "complicated beast," born of thousands of political entities. Originally a "crude and stripped down" descendant of English law, American law in the 19th century was often an instrument of "economic promotion." In the 20th century, with the rise of a national economy, an evermore heterogeneous population, waning federalism, and the rise of what Friedman calls the "administrative-welfare state," the law daily reached further, into the jurisdiction of civil rights of all stripes, product liability, malpractice, and environmental and antitrust considerations. Friedman's chapters on the colonial period and family law are strong, while his look at the contemporary legal climate drifts toward a general discussion of political and social mores. --H. O'Billovich

Product Description
Throughout Americas history, our laws have been a reflection of who we are, of what we value, of who has control. They embody our societys genetic code. In the masterful hands of the subjects greatest living historian, the story of the evolution of our laws serves to lay bare the deciding struggles over power and justice that have shaped this country from its birth pangs to the present. Law in America is a supreme example of the historians art, its brevity a testament to the great elegance and wit of its composition.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Modern Library
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.32" Width: 4.96" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   0.57 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 2002
Publisher   Modern Library
ISBN  0375506357  
ISBN13  9780375506352  

Availability  0 units.

More About Lawrence M. Friedman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Lawrence M. Friedman was born in 1930, educated at the University of Chicago where he earned his law degree, and admitted to the Illinois bar in 1951. He received a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Law School in English legal history. After serving in the United States Army, he practiced with a law firm in Chicago and subsequently entered the teaching profession. He has taught at St. Louis University, the University of Wisconsin, and, since 1968, at Stanford University, where he is now Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law. He is the author of "Contract Law in America: A Social and Economic Case Study" (1965); Government and Slum Housing: A Century of Frustration" (1968); "Law and the Behavioral Sciences" (coeditor; 1969, 2nd edition, 1977); "The Legal System: A Social Science Perspective" (1975); "Law and Society: An Introduction" (1977); "American Law and the Constitutional Order: Historical Perspectives" (coeditor, 1978); "Law and Social Change in Mediterranean Europe and Latin America" (coeditor, 1979); "The Roots of Justice: Crime and Punishment in Alameda County, California, 1870-1910" (coauthor, 1981); "American Law" (1984); "Your Time Will Come" (1985); and "Total Justice" (1985). He has contributed more than eighty articles to legal and associated journals. Professor Friedman is the past president of the Law and Society Association, and a past Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of a number of awards for writing and teaching. He is married and has two daughters.

Lawrence M. Friedman was born in 1942.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States
3Books > Subjects > Law > General
4Books > Subjects > Law > Perspectives on Law > Legal History
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Legal System
8Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Law > Perspectives on Law > Legal History

Reviews - What do customers think about Law in America: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles)?

Excellent intro to subject  May 13, 2007
I am a newcomer to this subject and found Prof. Friedman's book informative and approachable. Prior to this, I found reading about law pretty dry and boring compared to science (my usual preference), but this book managed to hold my interest from beginning to end. Taking a historical approach, Prof. Friedman shows how the law reflected changing social conditions and priorities as America evolved from a primitive, farming-based colony to a thriving industrial state. Overall this is a readable and interesting introduction to this important subject.
A nice introduction  Feb 12, 2007
I am a lawyer working in Australia. I am planning to do more law study in the US later this year, and read this book on the recommendation of a professor. While a section of the book after the introduction is a little straight-forward and essentially like revision for someone familiar with the common law, the book then moves into a very accessible and engaging introduction to some major ideas, landmarks and (more or less) large-scale developments in American law. As such, it was a very useful guide to a lawyer with no real knowledge of American legal history. A nice, quick introduction which would enable the reader to delve deeper subsequently in some of the issues the book discusses.
very well done...relevant and interesting  Dec 5, 2006
It is remarkable that Friedman can cover so much in such a short book, and he does it with great clarity. Moreover he excels in helping the reader feel connected to the material, making it seem more relevant and interesting. I've wanted to read the thicker Friedman book: A History of American Law, for years now, but have never gotten around to it. This much shorter book is something that can be read and easily digested in just a few days, and it has given me the increased motivation I've needed to commit to diving into Friedman's fatter history of law, as well as his similarly portly history of 20th century American law. This small volume is highly recommended as an introduction to a very engaging writer who has an admirable and extensive talent for clearly explaining the workings of our legal system and its history.
succinct  Aug 22, 2005
A brilliant survey of American legal history. Be advised that this edition seems to be an abridged version of two greater Lawrence Friedman works, A History of American Law and American Law in the 20th Century and if you're at all intrigued with this kind of work, or if this edition intrigues you, I do highly recommend those volumes.

This particular work is the kind of book you might want to send to family members curious about why you're going/have gone to law school, particularly as Mr. Friedman's prose is clear and quite readable, and won't intimidate people who are new to the law. A good sampler indeed.
American Law in context  Aug 7, 2005
This pocket book by Lawrence Friedman is a beautifully crafted short history of American Law and the politics behind. It is neither a reference book nor an introduction to U.S. legal history, but a discourse (or journey) on the evolution of law in America. It is very evocative and generates a craving for more (for that there is a nice commented bibliography). Friedman finds space to comment the system ("In a common law system, the judges who write the opinions are crucial and important figures. To be more precise, the law gets made by appellate judges"), its procedures (The overwhelming majority of cases are never appealed to a higher court indeed, the overwhelming majority of controversies never get to the courts at all") and its inhabitants ("Americans, it is said, are more rights conscious than most citizens of other countries; more prone to sue for damages"). If those appears personal views, instead they are thoroughly thought, but supporting evidence should be found elsewhere. While this book is less than 200 pages, the number of issues dealt in the book is impressive, from slavery to punishment, from privacy to how insurance companies and other businesses have waged a campaign against excessive tort liability (famous fabricated horror stories: the psychic who got a million dollars for losing her psychic power; the woman who got millions for spilling hot coffee on herself ; the burglar who was hurt while burglarizing somebody's house, and sued the owners). A highly recommended book for all.


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