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Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America's Founding Father (Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-C)
Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America's Founding Father (Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-C)
by George Goodwin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.26
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4.0 out of 5 stars Diplomat Ben Franklin at work in a hostile London, June 21, 2016
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This book has a good deal to recommend it to those interested in the American revolutionary period. First, it adds valuable detail to our understanding of Franklin the man and his contributions to the birth of the American republic. The frustrating situation that Franklin faced in London trying to negotiate on behalf of Pennsylvania and other colonies for fairness in economic issues and appropriate divisions of authority between the Crown and the colonial legislatures, makes it abundantly clear why these issues could not be resolved peacefully and required a bloody revolutionary war to settle them. A classic escalation model if there ever was one. Second, it demonstrates how when faced with intractable opposition, with both the Penn family and the British government unwilling to seriously address important issues, the resourceful Franklin relied instead upon social skills, his massive reputation as a scientist of the first order, and charm to open up pathways to important governmental personages and deliver the American message. While some have criticized Ben for later fooling around and having a good time when Ambassador to France, a deeper view reveals how he utilized a variety of personal techniques to carry on negotiation and do his duty. Finally, the author paints a rich portrait of the British ruling class, their backgrounds and attitudes toward America, and how they could be so absolutely uncompromising in dealing with serious problems involving their empire. Beautiful color paintings of some of these characters are included.

The author also devotes some chapters to Franklin's early life, including the period before becoming a colonial agent in London and an earlier brief period in Britain working in the printing industry. Then the focus shifts to his return to Pennsylvania and his successful business and political careers. His impact on Philadelphia was enormous. His scientific achievements are discussed, including a rare American membership in Britain's Royal Society, which proved invaluable when he undertook his mission to London in 1757. The more I learn about Franklin's pre-London early life and achievements, the more I realize how significant a figure he was--very different from his playboy reputation. Moreover, Franklin along the way spent much time with important members of the Scottish Enlightenment, particularly Lord Kames, and this is another virtue of the book.

But the primary focus of the book is on the endless struggles, humiliations, defeats, and embarrassments Ben underwent as he stuck it out in an inhospitable environment for nearly twenty years. His job was not made any easier by events such as the Boston Tea Party, American boycotts of British good, resistance to the Stamp Act and the Navigation Acts, and other signs of growing American impatience with the dictatorial British administration. The capstone was the hour long public dressing down of Ben by the Solicitor General before the all powerful Privy Council. His cheerful countenance apparently was hiding a will of steel as well as a very sharp political operator.

The text is supported by impeccable research reflected in numerous notes and a solid bibliography. The author has chose to include a unique section: "SELECTED LIST OF PLACES TO VISIT AND RELATED ORGANIZATIONS" in both the UK and Pennsylvania. A valuable addition to the literature, both interesting to read and informative, and a true service to Franklin.


Duracell Hearing Aid Batteries Size 10 pack 60 batteries
Duracell Hearing Aid Batteries Size 10 pack 60 batteries
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Price: $18.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superior German Engineering and Manufacturing Precision, June 21, 2016
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All hearing aid batteries are not the same. Folks new to these gizmos may be confused by the baffling range of batteries available in all sizes in drug stores, food stores, or from the internet. One of the major aspects a purchaser seeks is durability--lots of batteries are used in hearing aids so you want ones that are long lasting. Also economy in cost is an important consideration. By every measure, these German-made batteries are superior. They far exceeded anything I got from another source, including my audiologist. These Duracells come in individual handy small packages (6 per pack). Each is protected by a yellow tag, which keeps out dust, and which facilitates removing them from the pack and inserting them into the device. I have been using them for about a year now and they never cease to impress me with their quality, durability, and reasonable price. Amazon gets them to the customer pretty fast as well. Give them a try!


Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet (Jewish Lives)
Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet (Jewish Lives)
by Jeffrey Rosen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.62
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thought and Character of Louis D. Brandeis, June 7, 2016
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It is often the case that good things can come in smaller packages. This is certainly true of this perceptive study of Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), one of the Court's greatest Justices, among other accomplishments. While this book is part of Yale's acclaimed "Jewish Lives," series, the author cautions us that it is not meant to be a full biography but rather a 240 page condensed study of Brandeis's thought and character. The reader is referred to the major biographical studies of LDB, particularly Melvin Urofsky's nearly 1,000 page definitive analysis, if more biographical background is sought. However, Brandeis's thought and values emerge with clarity and precision in this compact study.

The book's major themes are previewed in the Introduction, "Isaiah and Jefferson." One of the great values of the book is that it focuses in on key books that Brandeis read that helped to shape his outlook. In particular, the author discusses A.J. Nock's 1926 biography of Jefferson and a book particularly important to Brandeis, Zimmern's "The Greek Commonwealth." The author relies upon Brandeis's own writings to expound upon his ideas; his frequent recurrence to LDB's family letters is particularly helpful in gaining insights into his thinking and reactions to various developments. As the intro's title indicates, the author sees major points of comparison between LDB and Jefferson, and this is one of the more fascinating aspects of the book.

All of the key aspects of Brandeis values and ideas are covered, concisely but effectively. His fondness for small scale farms and businesses versus industrial giants is thoroughly discussed, as is his conception of the states as "laboratories of democracy" well suited to try out new ideas. The importance of scientific management generating leisure for citizen study becomes evident. The author does not just focus on ideas, but looks at LDB's practical impact. His close relationship with Wilson during the 1912 campaign yielded among other advances the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Clayton Act, and laid the foundation for the later Glass-Steagall Act. The author discusses how Brandeis's ideas would have mitigated the 2008 financial meltdown.

When Brandeis joins the Court in 1916, the author's focus continues on his ideas and values even as some (but not too many) decisions and dissents are discussed. LDB's pragmatic theory of constitutional interpretation, focusing upon the adaptation of the document's values to current applications, would not have pleased the late Justice Scalia--it would have been interesting to see the two of them debating the issue. But judicial deference did not mean judicial abstinence. His distaste for centralization in both government and business led LDB to oppose the initial round of New Deal legislation, which surprised FDR given that LDB (whether appropriately or not) had advised him on several matters. Privacy, free speech, and opinions that educate as well as explain Court holdings were important values.

Finally, the very complicated relationship between Brandeis and Zionism is most effectively examined. That Brandeis sort of saw Palestine as a cross between the Periclean Athens of Alfred Zimmern and Jefferson's agricultural republic of small, independent farmers has always fascinated me; the author's cogent discussion helped me better understand this aspect of Brandeis. What he might make of today's Israel is interesting to contemplate. In the Epilogue, the author theorizes about how Brandeis's ideas would react to some current developments, such as cloud computing, the European "Right to be Forgotten," and "Citizens United" among other aspects of modern life.

Just a concise yet complete introduction to Brandeis and his continuing importance to us today. It is amazing how many times we see references to the Justice in discussions of current issues. At least four members of the current Court obviously have been impacted by his thinking and approaches. It is all here and effectively presented, including 31 pages of often fascinating notes. The book should become an essential introduction to the Justice and his many contributions to us.


The Nest
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.19
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family dynamics regarding who gets money, May 26, 2016
This review is from: The Nest (Hardcover)
I first got interested in this novel due to its central plot setting: four relatives not receiving an anticipated parental payment and the intense emotions that this situation releases. This is because I had gone through a similar situation myself, which educates you to the unpleasant side of human nature. This is a very fine novel; I enjoyed every page. For one thing, it is a great New York novel--the author writes with authenticity and familiarity in describing various areas in Manhattan where the action takes place. As is typical, all four adult children have anticipated the payment (due on the 40th birthday of the youngest) and "made plans" accordingly. Some have already spent the money in effect; others have been hanging on by a thread until the payment was to be received. When their mother indicates a reduced payment of about 10% of what was expected, then painful economy measures are instituted, tough choices made between staying in the house or paying college tuition, and unpleasant decisions about selling second homes. Everyone believes themselves entitled to full payment, no matter what.

The author also writes with a light touch--this is not heavy, depressing drama, but sparks of humor pop up every so often. This is true even with regard to the oldest brother Leo whose indiscretions have forced liquidation of most of the nest (money set aside by the father not to make the heirs rich but to make things easier--apparently about $500,000 for each). The futile efforts to persuade Leo to repay his siblings their full shares--or any money for that matter--generate the novel's energy. In addition to the four beneficiaries, the author introduces a range of additional characters, but does so so seamlessly, it enriches the story. From these folks we learn about publishing a NY "little magazine;" being a professional editor; and practicing law.

I was not too happy with the ending of the novel because I like things wrapped up at the conclusion. Here, the story just stops with no permanent resolution. However, the reader's imagination can suggest many hypothetical outcomes. So lots of fun to read, very well written, and tinged with New York atmosphere.


"Most Blessed of the Patriarchs": Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
"Most Blessed of the Patriarchs": Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
by Peter S. Onuf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.98
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Vital New Perspectives on the Sage of Montecello, May 19, 2016
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I found this impressive new study by Professors Onuf and Gordon-Reed to effectively meld familiar Jefferson material with some striking new perspectives. With two such experienced TJ scholars, fine work is to be expected. While I am still inclined to think that Gordon-Reed is too deeply fixated on slavery issues, her past two books have convinced me that this is the world in which Jefferson was immersed from birth to death, and the dimensions of slavery (both generally and as to TJ specifically) must continually be addressed. But even with scholars of this stature, the reader must remember that Jefferson died nearly 200 years ago and at best this perceptive book is informed speculation, but still speculation.

One key aspect of the book is how much it emphasizes Jefferson's continuing focus on Virginia. The adverse effects of slavery on Virginians was manifest to Jefferson and he initially pointed them out in his "Notes." Yet, as the authors argue, Jefferson's view shifted over time, from intense condemnation to a more comfortable and patient view influenced by his stay in France, largely leaving it to the future to correct the problem, as Jefferson was sure it would. The authors employ their patriarchal model of TJ (one of the most innovative techniques invented by the authors) to explain how his self-perception of himself as a "good master" and his slaves as parts of the contented Montecello assemblage over which he presided led him to be much more comfortable with the system.

The reader comes to see what TJ was seeking to accomplish with Montecello--to recreate the culture and intellectual stimulation of Paris in the wilds of Albemarle, as a model of what the U.S. was becoming and capable of developing. Amelioration of slavery's hardships is well evident on the plantation (for that is what it was), and why Jefferson felt he was truly a good master. The authors offer an interesting spin on Jefferson's perception of the value of agriculture and individual farmers as keys to keeping the revolution alive--perhaps he was more of a farsighted Hamilitonian than we realized. Incidentally, the chapters on France, and its transformative effects on Jefferson, are quite insightful.

Looking homeward, Jefferson saw many reforms to be necessary in Virginia, including (along with Madison) disestablishment and reform of legal property concepts. American virtue could be married to European civilization to produce a potent result. And slavery would take care of itself in the future--so the republic's future was bright. One surprising thing to me was that Jefferson saw the republic as the family writ large. The authors extensively examine this innovative perspective, including that patriotism began at home for Jefferson.

The authors focus upon some aspects of Jefferson rarely discussed by others. Jefferson and music turned out to be a fascinating discussion, as indeed did the chapter and privacy and prayers, especially helpful for exploring this perplexing area of Jeffersonian thought. Also helpful is the discussion of Jefferson's idea of ward republics--i.e., reducing government down to minute, local levels of control.

My comments touch upon but a limited number of this book's important contributions. Jefferson as a patriarch is a strikingly innovative technique of analysis--but readers must determine for themselves how far to carry this concept. As to be expected, there are ample notes and an effective index. I think the thing I liked most about the book is that the authors are in no hurry to spell out their conclusions and arguments; their stature as scholars obviates any need to dazzle the reader as younger academics might feel it necessary. Hence one has time to savor the analysis and ponder it. A vitally important book on Jefferson which anyone interested in the Sage must read and reflect upon.


The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire
The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire
by Laura Claridge
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.85
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of America's Great Publishers at Work, May 18, 2016
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Blanche Knopf (1894-1966) is the subject of this interesting biography--but it is as much a bio of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., the publisher and the American publishing industry. Co-founder of the house in 1915, it was really Blanche who was the indefatigable spark plug whose ceaseless activity drove Knopf into the first ranks of American publishers. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of American publishing during the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Given the enormous range of important books published by Knopf, the book also provides a very interesting mini-history of much of the important literature during this period and its key writers. For example, BK was a great friend of Henry Mencken as well as publisher of his classic "The American Language;" so the reader learns a good deal about this fascinating character. The same is true of Willa Cather and other authors. One key to Blanche's success was she hunted out potential authors, went out and met them, and continue to serve as their "den mother" during their often challenging lives. I doubt if our huge corporate publishers today (including Knopf absorbed by Random House in 1960) devote such TLC to their authors as she did.

Blanche directed Knopf to publish a wide range of foreign authors, including Freud, Gide, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Sartre, Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. Potential controversy did not scare her off, as witnessed by her publication of "The Second Sex" as well as a host of black writers discovered in her forays into Harlem, including James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. But she also had a great eye for fun books like Julia Child's trailblazing work on French cooking. And Knopf published lots of mysteries selected by BK, including books by Dashiell Hammett (who really required a lot of baby sitting), Raymond Chandler and Ross McDonald. She also seems to have known many eminent folks in the smaller and more intimate New York of her day, including Justice Robert Jackson, Scotty Reston, John Hersey and Tom Dewey. She also managed several important foreign goodwill trips for the government to Latin American and Europe along the way.

I have always been a fan of Knopf books because of the outstanding level of craftsmanship and typography they manifest. This too is large ascribable to her impeccable taste. From the outset of the house's founding in 1915, she insisted that Knopf would publish only the highest quality books--a tradition that continues today. Knopf did not fall into the trap of seeking to publish only best sellers; more moderate but perennial solid titles were its goal. l had long been curious about Knopf and I thank the author for informing me of many key details as she examines Blanche's interesting life. The book is supported by solid research reflected in extensive notes and solid bibliography and index. Quite an interesting read about an important cultural figure.


The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics
The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics
by Stephen Coss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.50
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4.0 out of 5 stars Smallpox, a young Ben Franklin, and Freedom of the Press, May 9, 2016
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This is an interesting book about the serious smallpox epidemic in Boston beginning in 1721. This very serious disease infected half of the 11,000 residents of the city. It was only abated when the new (to America) technique of inoculation was tried by Doctor Zabdiel Bolyston, who while folks were dying nonetheless ran into serious opposition from religious and governmental leaders fearful about this new technology. However, the book takes a wider perspective than just the epidemic as its focus.

Prominent in responding to the disease was Cotton Mather, the famous cleric forever identified and tarnished with the Salem Witch trials. So the reader learns a good deal about this "fire and brimstone" Puritan cleric and the struggle taking place with Boston individuals and groups seeking to weaken the Puritan stranglehold on the community. A second important dimension of the book is its extensive discussion of the early years of Benjamin Franklin, who at the time of the epidemic was an apprentice printer to his brother James at the New England Courant, an early newspaper that would make history in establishing freedom of the press. The author's description of Ben Franklin at this early stage of his career adds an important dimension of our understanding of Ben and the important figure he would become. Particularly effective is the book's discussion of Ben's anonymous satirical "Silence Dogood" purported reader's letters to the newspaper.

A very important focus of the book is the battle that takes place for freedom of the press involving the Courant and the local religious and political establishments. The idea that a newspaper would not contend itself with reprinting government "press releases" but would undertake independent investigations and publish material highly critical of the government, was virtually unprecedented and set off a firestorm that foreshadowed the Peter Zenger trial in 1735. James Franklin, despite being arrested at one point, also established the principle that a newspaper did not have to reveal the identity of its sources and could fight censorship if necessary.

But the heart of the book is the very nasty smallpox epidemic and how inoculation divided the community. It is an excellent case study of how ignorance and religious intolerance can severely hamper the benefits of medical science--not exactly unknown in our own time. So all together, there are solid multiple reasons why this is a valuable book. The author's research and familiarity with the topic are impressive; his writing clear and cogent. Hopefully, further fine historical studies will be forthcoming from this author.


Abigail Adams: Letters: Library of America #275 (The Library of America)
Abigail Adams: Letters: Library of America #275 (The Library of America)
by Abigail Adams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.49
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5.0 out of 5 stars Abigail Adams Speaks for Herself, May 9, 2016
I first became acquainted with Abigail Adams' letters several years ago when I reviewed "My Dearest Friend," a collection of the letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams. I found her to be a perceptive observer of events, very skillful in discussing ideas, and pretty soundly grounded for someone who had not had much formal education. This new Library of American volume differs from the previous volume in several important respects.
First, it is more comprehensive, with 430 letters including 100 never before published. Second, it is limited to Abigail's letters, and does not include the letters to which she is responding. And there is a whole range of features which facilitate the reader's understanding of the letters and the key ideas and individuals Abigail is addressing in her correspondence.

The editor has not just laid out an array of letters organized by date. For example, while the letters are contained in individual sections such as "Revolution, 1773-1777" and "Vice President's Lady, 1788-1796", each letter in the table of contents has a brief descriptive tag attached so the reader knows generally the subject of a letter before deciding to read it. In addition, the editor has added an extensive chronology covering 1744-1818 so that the reader knows the background when a particular letter is written. Also included is a List of Correspondents, containing brief bios of Abigail's correspondents which adds further context to the letters. The sources of letters used by the editor are identified in "Note on the Texts." Absolutely essential are the 133 pages of annotated notes designated for specific letters. Once again, unfamiliar terms are made clear and other important information is made accessible to the reader. Finishing out these features is a solid index.

All these features are the contributions of the volume's editor, Edith Gelles of Stanford, a recognized Abigail scholar with multiple books on Abigail to her credit. Her informed and experienced hand is evident on virtually every page of the volume. As is typical with LOA volumes, the typography is clear and easy to read, and the paper and binding outstanding. Even at 1180 pages, the book is easy to handle and read. Abigail Adams was a perceptive observer at the crossroads of history, and exceedingly skilled and perceptive in sharing her thoughts and reactions with her correspondents--and thankfully, us as well.


Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Lusitania Sinking and Submarine Warfare, April 27, 2016
The author could have written a much more compact analysis of the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, but as his previously released volumes such as "Devil in the White City" and "In the Garden of Beasts" indicate, Erik Larson likes to really dig into the context and surrounding developments of whatever he is writing about. So there is much more to this book than simply great liner is built, sails from New York during World War I (although the U.S. was not yet involved), and gets torpedoed with great loss of life. To establish the context, Larson also includes a discussion of the construction of the ship; the background and experience of her captain; the lifeboat issue; personal mini-biographies of some passengers and their shipboard activities; U-boat 20, its capitan and crew; and why two explosions were reported when U-20 only fired one torpedo.

One of the most interesting aspects discussed by the author is the novelty and lack of understanding by everybody regarding this new technique of undersea warfare with subs. So we learn about the history of subs in warfare, what the Germans expected out of such destruction, that torpedos were highly unreliable; and how defenses developed to these new weapons. Interestingly, Larson points out that once a sub on patrol was outside radio range, in other words out of contact with superior officers, a capitan was largely free to take whatever actions he chose--and that was the situation with the U-20 and the Lusitania. Equally fascinating is the author's discussion of top secret"Room 40," a sophisticated (for 1915) intelligence center which was quite proficient in tracking German subs, largely by monitoring their radio transmissions. The Brits pretty much followed the course of U-20 before and after its attack, which leads to a great mystery: why was the Lusitania and her capitan not informed about the presence of the sub, and why did the famed British fleet not provide escort support which it had for other passenger ships?

Employing the subs logs, Larson meticulously traces the launching of the attack; he is equally careful in his detailed reconstruction of the Lusitania's sinking. For the most part, the author's attention to these side issues I found to be quite helpful, with the possible exception of the extensive attention he pays to President Woodrow Wilson's mourning for his wife and remarriage. Larson pretty effectively "torpedoes" the familiar theory that the second explosion came from hidden military cargo destined for the Brits. Larson also continues his narrative on after the sinking, to cover events suchas the Zimmrmann telegram, and the decision of the Kaiser to impose limits on attacking passenger ships out of fear of the anti-German reaction. His research is impeccable as reflected in 49 pages of notes and a solid bibliography. As usual, his writing is cogent and perceptive. All and all, quite an interesting book and well worth reading


On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century
On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century
by Daniel R. Coquillette
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $30.32
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5.0 out of 5 stars The First Century of Harvard Law School, March 28, 2016
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This is the remarkable first volume (covering 1817-1910) of a two volume extensive history of Harvard Law School. It runs a hefty 666 pages, most of which are quite interesting and informative. Of course, HLS grads (of which I am not one) seem to have an inexhaustible need to read such histories, and many both favorable and critical, have been published, but that is not the reason to tackle this monument to serious scholarship. The first century of HLS simply is critical to understanding legal education in this country (and other nations as well), for its history is largely the history of American legal education in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The authors lay this all out beautifully, with abundant and vital notes at the conclusion of each chapter for easy reference. So the book is just an essential resource for those interested in the invention and development of the American university law school.

After a very helpful concise preface, the authors devote their first two chapters to the English and Continental roots and the American antecedents of HLS. The English bestowed a valuable heritage to HLS, but Oxbridge legal education was largely a failure, since it consisted largely until Blackstone of studying Roman law and the civil law tradition of legislative codes. 19th century American legal education consisted largely of studying common law developments through the aegis of apprenticeship to paracticing lawyers. Many aspiring lawyers did not even go this route, since few jurisdictions (until 1890) even required any training. Fortunately, some early proprietary schools such as Litchfield in Connecticut trained some lawyers via dictating the equivalent of text books rather than lecturing on specific topics. There were some forerunners of HLS in the teaching of George Wythe and St. George Tucker at William and Mary, James Kent and Columbia, James Wilson at Pennsylvania, and David Hoffman at Maryland. But their lectures were often tilted toward studying law as a liberal art, and not the training of lawyers for practice.

One of the most interesting dimensions of this book is how it explains the evolution of HLS out of this environment as the first university school of law. The founding of the Royall chair (1815), funded by a slaveholder, and the appointment of its initial holder Isaac Parker, were key events. Parker argued for university patronage of a professional school, aimed primarily at college graduates, and staffed with a professional faculty. But the initial try was a failure due to poor facilities, weak curriculum, competition from proprietary schools and apprenticeships, and lack of solvency. By 1829 things were desperate when a wealthy lawyer, Nathan Dane, working in conjunction with Justice Joseph Story who took control, revitalized and saved the institution.

Thereafter, the narrative is rich with names famous in American law: Simon Greenleaf (1833), James Kent, Francis Lieber, and others. Finances are reorganized, text and recitation replace students writing down text books in lectures, enrollment and tuition increase, and curriculum is revised. The chapter on Greenleaf is particularly interesting, since his tenure is cut short by his successful representation of the plaintiffs in the "Charles River Bridge" case ending a bridge monopoly over the Charles from which Harvard had derived substantial income. The two chapters on the "gathering storm" of the Civil War and the war's aftermath are also quite engrossing, since abolition and the war divided the student body, a large measure which was drawn from the southern states. In fact, numerous HLS students ended up capturing or killing their former now Confederate classmates.

Of course a major development occurred at HLS in 1870 with the appointment of C.C. Langdell as dean of the law school. Landell permanently revolutionized legal education in this country, and the authors devote three entire chapters to explaining how and why he did it. His innovations included the use of casebooks, the socratic method of teaching material, exams consisting of often complex factual scenarios, and the casebook approach to learning legal principles almost as a scientific exercise. Contracts were Langell's primary academic interests, and his casebook on contracts had tremendous innovative impact, sparkiing a revolution in law teaching. Interestingly, Langdell and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ended up with a major disagreement in that Holmes disputed that logical legal formalism was the ideal, arguing instead famously that "the lilfe of the law has not been logic, it has been experience." Most students of American jurisprudence would contend that OWH admirablywon that battle for ever thereafter.

In the 1890's, with the institution of modern law firms like Cravath and that of Louis Brandeis, HLS became more of an elite instiution, with ever higher standards of admission and performance resulting. Women, non-white college graduates, and graduates of Catholic Colleges were largely excluded. Hence, the authors see the birth of a meritocracy (as reflected in their title), fully prepared to join in advising business corporations from large firms. Volume I ends with a chapter on dean James Barr Ames (1895-1909) with the school facing new financial challenges and some stagnation. I look forward to Volume II to see how the early 20th century HLS grapples with these new challenges to produce the dominant school we know today.


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