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The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State Paperback – December 9, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0521016803 ISBN-10: 0521016800

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521016800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521016803
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,560,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'... this is a profoundly thought-provoking work. The scope of this book is immense and panoptic ... all of what is written is engaging ... this is an enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Allott's work has always broken the mould of international legal scholarship in this country, and this book is no exception. The application of his general philosophy to more concrete legal issues is very welcome and will permit the dissemination of his ideas to a wider audience. Even if they disagree with Allott's philosophy, professional and academic international lawyers, as well as students of international law, should read this book and seriously reconsider both the current state of their discipline and how they can move it forward. They will find that it has much to offer them.' Public Law

Book Description

Globalisation has become familiar, the target even of street demonstrations from Seattle to Genoa. It challenges all our traditional social structures, with international systems, such as the European Union, the WTO or the global capital markets, taking power over the power of states and governments. We have to rethink the complex and subtle ideas which have made our national systems work and have made them tolerable. This book seeks to uncover these ideas and to develop them in new ways to meet the new and urgent global challenges.

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edit of21 Dec 07 to add links and reassert importance of this work.

Of the 1000+ books I have reviewed on Amazon, this is one of a handful that can be considered truly revolutionary. Three others that come instantly to mind are those by Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, William Greider, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, and E.O. Wilson, The Future of Life.

This book is not an easy read. The author, a Professor of Law in the University of Cambridge, wrote an earlier work, Eunomia: New Order for a New World, that has remained similar obscure, and that is a pity, for what I see here is a truly brilliant mind able to suggest that the Congress of Vienna, the current law of nations, and the de-humanization of state to state relations, isolating the internal affairs and inhumanities of state from global public morality and indignation, are the greatest travesty in human history.

The author joins William Greider in suggesting that the state as a corporate personality is as immoral (and irrational in terms of natural law) as is the corporate personality that allows corporations to treat humans as "goods.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Signs and Wonders on April 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have had this book on perpetual loan from the library, probably becasue I am compelled to re-read it, but I am so ambivalent about it, that I can't bring myself to give it permanent place on my bookshelf. I won't be able to resolve my ambivalence about the book here, but here are some of my comments both on style and substance.

ON STYLE: Along with its prequel "Eunomia" "Health of Nations" (as a quick use of the "Look Inside" function will reveal) stands out for its unusual stylistic conceit, which is particularly unorthodox for the discipline of international law. The risks Allott takes in this regard are actually admirable and inspiring. Because of the absurd civil law vertige that itnernational lawyers have a role in the development of positive law, the discipline tends to encourage formulaic jurisprudence of armchair judiciary. In my view the discipline is important enough that it deserves more "genre" works that explore aspects of the subject with original voices and techniques, and until C. Mieville writes the Great IL Science Fiction Novel, Prof. Allott's two books will probably stand as the most ambitious recent attempts at genre-bending in the discipline (including recent works by D. Kennedy or P. Sands, for example, and I can't think of any older models of hybrid genres since C. Schmitt's "Land and Sea" which we can't quite claim for our discipline anyway). For this reason alone, I would recommend the book to anyone seeking to spend an evening reading outside of a narrow or joyless doctrinal specialization. But though this work-- in turns aphoristic and analytic, Nietzschean and Wittgensteinian-- is original in form, its argument doesn't quite take advantage of any of the virtues of this form.
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