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Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History Expanded Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195139655
ISBN-10: 0195139658
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Editorial Reviews


"White has confirmed his reputation as one of the foremost figures in the field of American legal history."--Harvard Law Review

"[White] makes convincing sequence out of the muddy history of American tort law, tracing it from Victorian concepts of punishable wrongdoing through the dark thickets of negligence, contributory negligence and last clear chance, to the myriad modern conceptions of how the cost of accidents should be apportioned among the public....It is a brilliant and imaginative essay."--Louis Auchincloss

"An exciting chronicle of the development of an intriguing and currently important area of the law."--Marc A. Franklin, Stanford Law School

"White broadens our understanding of why we think of the law as we do and deepens our insight into its historical foundations."--Edward Purcell, author of The Crisis of Democratic Theory

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

G. Edward White is Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law School and author of The American Judicial Tradition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Expanded edition (March 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195139658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195139655
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.3 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,443,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This fine volume is just what its title indicates: an intellectual history of tort law in America.

Law scholar G. Edward White begins with the rise of tort law as a separate discipline and traces its development through late nineteenth-century scientism; early twentieth-century legal realism; the contributions of Benjamin Cardozo, William Prosser, and Roger Traynor; and the "neoconceptualism" of the 1970s (the book was published in 1980). In this final chapter, he deals by turns with Richard Posner and Guido Calabresi on the law-and-economics side, and then with George Fletcher and Richard Epstein (the latter before he went over to the utilitarians).

White's basic take on this intellectual history is one that is bound to raise a few hackles. Basically, he thinks that tort law itself covers a rather motley assortment of wrongs and cannot be reduced to a few simple principles; most of the ideas that have influenced the history of the field have taken hold, not because they arise from the field itself or because they have so much intrinsic worth, but simply because the scholars at certain influential institutions made them intellectually fashionable. That tort law resists rationalization by simple principles White regards as a good thing, because it keeps legal scholars from becoming a sort of intellectual priesthood.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Fulmer on December 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
White is obviously a master of the subject, but he doesn't exactly write so other people can *read* what he's saying. The format of the book -- small densely packed text -- only makes it worse. It's the sort of book that you have to read a sentence and then translate it back into english for yourself. Once you do that, you'll get a great understanding of how Torts have progressed from Holmes' day to the present.
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