Cover: Overcoming Law in PAPERBACK

Overcoming Law

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$31.00 • £24.95 • €28.00

ISBN 9780674649262

Publication Date: 10/01/1996


608 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Judge Posner’s book…is about the economics of practicing and studying law: the incentives and disincentives faced by judges, lawyers and law professors. The book describes the legal profession as a collapsing cartel, a decadent guild coming to terms with market competition… It is by far the best—the most scholarly, the most thoughtful, as well as the sharpest and most provocative—of the current crop of commentaries on the plight of law today.—Jeremy Waldron, The New York Times Book Review

Reflecting the breadth of the author’s interest, the book ranges widely through the law and beyond… Posner is clearer here than in any of his previous work that there is—that there must be—more to the practice of judging than economics, or any similarly formal deductive system, can provide… His ideas are surely worth a look.—David G. Post, Reason

Overcoming Law collects Richard Posner’s major articles and essays from recent years. While the book is an assemblage of smaller pieces, ‘it is meant to be read consecutively’ and in fact lays out a distinct and formidable theme: a view of law Posner describes as ‘pragmatic’ rather than formalistic or ideological… One lingering aftertaste of the book is that political and intellectual labels in our time have been degraded almost beyond recognition. Another, and stronger, is that Posner is the real thing: a philosopher and intellectual who despite his immense learning has retained a strong sense of the humane and the decent. If that is pragmatism, then we need more of it.—Paul Reidinger, ABA Journal

Overcoming Law takes the reader on a dazzling intellectual tour. Judge Richard Posner offers fascinating commentary on subjects ranging from the law of medieval Iceland to the legal community of the contemporary South Bronx. His interests range from the organization of legal services to the economics of homosexuality. Moreover, Posner is an exceptionally accessible and civil guide to this remarkable range of legal concerns.—Mark A. Graber, Law and Politics Book Review

A dazzling collection of recent essays… Richard Posner is the most prolific and creative judge now sitting on the federal bench. The essays in Overcoming Law, like everything he writes, are exhilarating in their range and wit and candor.—Jeffrey Rosen, Yale Law Journal

Overcoming Law is as good as anything being written about law and legal scholarship today. The essays go for the intellectual jugular; they’re sometimes devastatingly witty; and on occasion, even passionate. Posner is a towering figure in American law, both as a judge and as a scholar, and one of his greatest merits has been his capacity for intellectual growth. This book demonstrates a major development in his thought.—Daniel Farber, University of Minnesota Law School

Overcoming Law is an extraordinary book, brimming with stimulating ideas on almost every page. I couldn’t put it down. The book will trigger some significant national debates, especially given the blazing attacks the author delivers on the limitations of contemporary legal education and the deficiencies of contemporary legal thought, including that manifested by the Supreme Court. In breadth of interest, Posner can be compared only to people like Holmes, William O. Douglas, Jerome Frank, and Joseph Story.—Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin Law School

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Schelling the Trailblazer

Books influence us in untold ways, and the ones that influence us the most are often read in childhood. Harvard University Press Senior Editor Julia Kirby is reminded of this on the anniversary of the birth of one of this country’s most celebrated economists. This month would have brought Thomas Schelling’s one-hundredth birthday—and he got closer to seeing it than many mortals. The Nobel laureate economist died just five years ago, after a brilliant career as both a scholar and an advisor to US foreign policy strategists. What better day to dip into his classic work