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The Transformation of American Law, 1870-1960: The Crisis of Legal Orthodoxy (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0195092592 ISBN-10: 0195092597 Edition: Reissue
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

For anyone seriously interested in studying American legal history, this insightful and persuasive account of the development of American law from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century is required reading. Comparing and contrasting Progressive Legal Thought with its predecessor, Classical Legal Thought, Horwitz clearly proves the impossibility of understanding the development of the American legal system separate from the broader cultural context, domestically and internationally. Building on his equally impressive earlier volume ( The Transformation of American Law , 1780-1860 , LJ 2/15/77), Horwitz provides lucid and challenging material on critical figures and events in the evolution of American law, such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Lochner decision, and Critical Legal Studies. Not everyone will agree with some of the conclusions, but this excellent work cannot be ignored. Especially recommended for upper-level graduate libraries.
- Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, Id.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

In an important and long-awaited sequel to his classic Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 (1977), Horwitz tells how the Progressive movement--a program for political and economic as well as legal reform--transformed American legal thought from a search for impartial norms into a discipline that acknowledged the elasticity of its own rules and that borrowed the methodologies and some of the values of the social sciences. Horwitz describes the Progressive movement (and its progeny, the Legal Realism movement of the 1920's and 1930's) as an assault on ``classical legal thought''--the view that the law constitutes an impartial body of rules administered by neutral arbiters. The author argues that centralization of the American economy--with the accompanying problems of urbanization, immigration, industrialism, and polarization of economic classes--led to a gradual reexamination of classical legal thought, particularly the bias in legal orthodoxy against redistribution of wealth. Horwitz describes how economic and, ultimately, social changes brought about by WW I put irresistible pressure on courts and legal scholars to bring jurisprudential thought into closer touch with America's rapidly changing society. But, Horwitz explains, it was the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Lochner v. New York (1905)--which invalidated a maximum-hours law for bakers on the grounds that it unconstitutionally interfered with the freedom of contract--that truly catalyzed the attacks of Progressive legal scholars on the claim that law was a politically neutral science. Through a discussion of the evolution of thought in specialized legal fields and problems, and by offering short sketches about the thought of influential figures of the period like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Legal Realists Karl Llewellyn and Jerome Frank, Horwitz demonstrates that the effect of the new thinking on American law was pervasive and lasting. Finally, he argues persuasively that the Legal Realist tradition has had an extensive effect on the development of American law in the post-WW II period. An excellent and significant reexamination of the work and impact of the Progressive and Realist legal thinkers. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195092597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195092592
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cory on November 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a masterpiece of modern legal history, effectively covering the fall of classicism and the rise and decline of progressivism in legal thought. This second in his series on the American Law is much less controversial than the first, and lends much to the in-depth scrutiny of the individuals behind progressivism in the period surrounding World Wars I and II. This is a must read for any law student with an interest in the foundations of what they learn every day.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Rockwell on January 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the only one of the two volumes that I read, so I can't vouch for the other. But this volume is epic. Horowitz does a wonderful job of bringing together the social, intellectual, and political undercurrents that drove the formation and transformation of American law through the late 19th and 20th centuries.

I read this book between my second and third years of law school, and I found that it provided something that is missing from the standard law curriculum: a historic arc. What I learned from Horowitz helped me to illuminate all the subjects I approached in my third year. It helped me to understand where many legal concepts came from, to see the theoretical and historic arc along which they traveled, and to better understand the basis and bias of contemporary legal discourse.

Horowitz puts across with clarity and coherence the origins of today's legal debates. I strongly recommend his book to anyone that is hoping for a more full understanding of the modern legal landscape.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By leather tufted armchair on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Historical treatise, which could be made "lighter" and clearer by better organization. Some passages are excellent, but there is a lot of fluff throughout...
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