Top critical review
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Edit this book, please.
on April 3, 2012
As someone else already noted, if you're here, it's because the book was assigned and you have to buy it. But in the slim chance some professor out there is reading this and trying to make a decision, I'll just say this book is terrible. Of course, I can only compare it to other casebooks I have used this year, but this is by far the worst. A few of the main issues:
1. Unedited Cases - As others have noted, the cases could be edited down substantially to isolate relevant legal issues. The failure to do this results not only in wasted time (the enemy of the law student), but also confusion. The confusion arises because a case will include discussion of ancillary issues to the resolution of the case that are discussed elsewhere in the chapter (frequently later) in greater depth, and there's no contextualization about which is the majority, outdated, etc. Because they are often irrelevant to the "point" of the case, this confusion and delay could be easily avoided through more judicious editing. (Also, there are a lot of "throat-clearing" cases, which just announce a new rule. Editors, here's an idea: instead of wasting my time by making me read 6-8 pages of bull, why not just provide a paragraph explaining the historical development, policy, and the new rule? Oh yeah, because the more pages, the more we pay.).
2. "Notes" - I suppose the authors deserve some credit for attempting to do what many casebooks don't by occasionally providing brief snippets explaining black letter law. But it was almost as if the authors just couldn't bring themselves to complete this pedagogical sacrilege, and the result is confusing passages which obliquely discuss legal issues without offering satisfactory or even organized explanations. The entire tone of these passages can best be described as "coy." My advice would be to just read the real thing: an actual treatise designed to be helpful, rather than "prodding" (read: confusing).
3. "Problems" - Closely related to the "notes" are the problems, which are simply infuriating. The book will pose a question, which you are quite justifiably incapable of answering, because it applies some doctrine or exception which you have not yet learned, or reaches a novel conclusion. And instead of offering an explanation, the vast, vast majority of these questions taunt you by directing you to a case dealing with the issue, usually without a parenthetical explanation. Let me put this simply: there is no way I am going to use what limited spare time I have in law school to go read an unassigned case just to get an answer that is put plainly in a hornbook or E&E.
In conclusion, this book is terrible. For an example of a well-done text, check out Glannon and Raven-Hansen's new CivPro book.