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A Companion to American Legal History Hardcover – Apr 25 2013

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“When a field grows as explosively as American legal history has over the past generation, a volume like this becomes necessary and useful. These essays, collectively and individually, capture the scholarly moment with grace, good humor, and erudition.”  (Expofairs.com, 19 November 2014)

"Blackwell is to be commended for commissioning this fine anthology of bibliographical essays on American legal history... Hadden and Brophy have done a superb job of gathering contributors and unifying their efforts."  (Law and History Review, 1 February 2014)

“Whether as an opening portal to the field or as a point of ref­erence for those already active in it, A Com­panion to American Legal History should attract both interest and use..”  (Journal of American History, 1 March 2014)

"It is modelled exactly on the other volumes in the Wiley-Blackwell series: a large well-made octavo, nicely printed, solidly bound. There are no documents or illustrations; just 28 interesting essays and a good index."  (Reference Reviews, 1 March 2014)

“The collection provides the most comprehensive examination of American legal history to date.  Summing Up: Recommended.  Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections.”  (Choice, 1 January 2014)


A Companion to American Legal History is an essential compendium of the state of the art, a reliable guide to a discipline that is daily crossing boundaries and probing more deeply into the role law has played in American life.” – David Konig, Washington University in St. Louis

"A remarkable collection of first-rate historians have contributed to this indispensable guide to the burgeoning field of American legal history. A must-read for students and scholars alike." - Ariela Gross, University of Southern California

“When a field grows as explosively as American legal history has over the past generation, a volume like this becomes necessary and useful.  These essays, collectively and individually, capture the scholarly moment with grace, good humor, and erudition.” – Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A valuable adjunct to American Legal History studies Feb. 14 2014
By Ronald H. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have become quite fond of the Wiley-Blackwell "companion" to American history series. Specifically, I found the volumes on Jefferson and American Colonial History to be quite well done. They are skillfully edited; published in attractive and durable hardcovers (a few in paper); and have contributions from a wide variety of experts in the particular topic. The only down side is that they are quite expensive and relatively few come out in later paperback formats.

This volume on American legal history continues this fine series. The editors have chosen to organize it in an unusual manner which works quite well. After an introduction, Part I is structured chronologically, covering the period from the 17th century up through 1970. Some essays deal with legal thought; others with the development of legal historical writing; and a particularly interesting one by Sally Hadden addresses what has been done, and what still needs to be done, in the field. I found this section helpful because it really orients the reader to the more specialized studies that follow.

Part II deals with "Individuals and Groups." These essays discuss Native Americans, women, African Americans, immigrants and families. There is even an essay on "The Legal Profession" by Mark E. Steiner. By Part III, we are dealing with a variety of "subject areas." This is probably the most substantive set of essays (running nearly 200 pages) dealing with topics such as law and labor, law and the economy, criminal law and justice, intellectual property, poverty and law and religion. A vital topic too often overlooked is discussed by Joanna L. Grisinger in "Law and the Administrative State."

Finally, Part IV moves away from substantive areas and deals with legal thought. Given my interests, I found this section to sparkle with essays on American jurisprudence, especially John Henry Schlegel on "Critical Legal Studies." At 100 pages, this is the smallest section, but well worthy of attention as a complement to the previous essays.

The table of contributors evidences once again the quality of this series. I found just reading the mini-bios stimulating given the authors' previous contributions to this field. A fine index is also included. All around, quite a valuable volume and one bound to entrance any student of American legal history.