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A Nation of Laws: America's Imperfect Pursuit of Justice Hardcover – March 16, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hoffer's concise and fluent study of the history of American law packs a lifetime of learning into a fresh and challenging interpretation of the national experience itself." Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln "Beautifully written, this is the short book to read on American law - no one else has gotten it so right in so few words. Bravo!" Stanley N. Katz, editor of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History "Brilliant and eclectic, short and highly readable.... A remarkable book." Alfred L. Brophy, author of Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921, Race, Reparations, Reconciliation"

From the Back Cover

"Hoffer's concise and fluent study of the history of American law packs a lifetime of learning into a fresh and challenging interpretation of the national experience itself."--Sean Wilentz, author of <I>The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln</I><P>

"Beautifully written, this is the short book to read on American law--no one else has gotten it so right in so few words. Bravo!"--Stanley N. Katz, editor of the <I>Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History</I><P>

"Brilliant and eclectic, short and highly readable. . . . A remarkable book."--Alfred L. Brophy, author of <I>Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921, Race, Reparations, Reconciliation</I>

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700617078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700617074
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,454,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. White on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The title 'A Nation of Laws: America's Imperfect Pursuit of Justice' caught my eye and I was not disappointed in reading it. The subtitle aptly describes the approach Professor Hoffer takes in the book.

The book is relatively short (180 pages of text) and was a quick but engaging read. The book moves quickly and does not waste time or words on each topic. However, it does tie the various topics together in a very coherent explanation of the development of American law since the 17th century (yes, it includes some discussions regarding colonial law).

The author is not a lawyer but a historian and although, as a lawyer, I was skeptical of his bona fides at first, I found the discussions in the book to be refreshingly void of the self-loathing from American legal scholars or the America bashing of many European legal scholars. All topics were discussed even-handedly and with an eye to explaining the significance to the development of American jurisprudence. Although the length of the book makes it almost an 'introduction' to American legal history, for those who desire to explore some topics in depth, the book is well-referenced to help select the most valuable of other sources to read next.

I found the last chapter (The sources for American legal history) to be valuable for further reading and found the section on the place for historians in the legal process to be fascinating. If the book has a fault, it would be that this section on historians was too short -- perhaps that is (or should be) the topic for Professor Hoffer's next book.

The book is excellent for lawyers and non-lawyers alike; only the most senior of legal scholars will not find something of interest.
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A Nation of Laws: America's Imperfect Pursuit of Justice
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