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The Common Law

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Only paperback edition of great legal classic by noted Supreme Court Justice. Lucid, accessible coverage, from a historical perspective, of liability, criminal law, torts, bail, possession and ownership, contracts, successions, many other aspects of civil and criminal law. Indispensable reading for lawyers, political scientists, interested general readers.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 22nd 1991 by Dover Publications (first published 1963)
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Jun 29, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: law
Let's begin with a couple of biographical details. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was a weird guy. Anyone who had grown up in the home of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., gone by the nickname "Wendy" as a lad, been for most of his life the smartest guy in any room by a fair margin, and been wounded three times and shell-shocked in the Civil War, is bound to be a little bit weird. Even that said, his aloofness and intellectualism was well-known during his lifetime. His tendency to take great pleasure ...more
This book is one of the three or four books that shaped modern America. It has been in print continuously since 1885. It is both a book of ideas and an artifact; it is written in Victorian American English, so it is not an easy read. I first read it in the summer of 1968 before starting law school. I have to confess that I didn't understand it very well. The ideas seemed obvious; after law school I re-read it and realized that it semed obvious to me bcause it was the founding document of two sch ...more
Among justices of the Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is of a tier that accompanied only by a few others, such as John Marshall and perhaps Hugo Black. Before this book was published, Holmes had already edited Chancellor Kent's Commentaries on American Law and written a number of useful academic articles. Had he died then, he would have been known as a respected, if little known, legal scholar. With the Common Law, however, Holmes established the reputation that would elevate him to Ha ...more
Avel Deleon
Valuable quotes:
“Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.”

“Man's mind, once stretched by an idea, never regains its original shape.”

“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

This book is an analysis of the law and the building of what may be called a civilized society. Laws have to be subject to precision to have ambitious laws leads to trouble and chaos. Oliver traces the history of criminal law, fraud, liability, common good, property and
A wonderful exploration of the anomalies that appear in the common law. The book's title is a little misleading since unlike Blackstone, Holmes is not really writing about the law, he is writing about what he thinks are the fundamentals of its jurisprudence. For the reader who approaches this read under that the false pretense that this a book on law, a few pages will quickly disabuse them of that perception. But that is not the only misunderstanding that gets frequent mention.

"The Common Law" i
Don Weidinger
law embodies story of nation’s development, history beginning with intention, recovery solutions unintended damage, bound by property rights to take care of property, law approaching consistency, spring from blame revenge malice and intent, basis of prudent man.
Really, though, it is a very good book, but for me it was like reading a different language. Certainly, there was a good deal of Latin phrases (and not ones in the dictionary I had handy), the writing was 19th century, so many references to the different English Monarchs by ear of their reign), and legal concepts outside of my background.

So while hard, it have to say that it was a very well developed history of the laws that are in existence today. And if law is anything, it really is a reflecti
Chauncey Bird
This book is a must read, but it is dense.
May 31, 2009 Leadmixer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with spare time.
I bought this book a year ago with the intention to read it all at once. Time constraints made that near impossible. If you're a kid interested in law, you should definitely read this. If not,'s pretty interesting as far as 'informational reading' goes. But then again, informational reading isn't exactly what I'd call a fun read.
Nick Hunt
It was fascinating. It was a true page turner to anyone with interest in law. He did an amazing job in describing ancient law and showing common themes in ancient and post moder law. It was a little rough with some of the old language to understand but overall great read.
They say you can't go through law school without reading it . . . well, I just did, but that doesn't mean I can't still get it in before I take the bar.
Sam Snideman
Read in part to prime my law school experience. It's pretty dry stuff, but interesting enough if you're in to historical reviews of legal concepts.
He's way off on the law. Something to do with a hundred years of history, and a different jurisdiction.
Craig J.
The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1991)
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932. Noted for his long service, his concise and pithy opinions, and his deference to the decisions of elected legislatures, he is one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history, particularly for his "clear and present danger" majority opinion in the 19 ...more
More about Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr....
The Essential Holmes: Selections from the Letters, Speeches, Judicial Opinions, and Other Writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The Path of the Law (Little Books of Wisdom) The Mind and Faith of Justice Holmes: His Speeches, Essays, Letters, and Judicial Opinions The Path of the Law and The Common Law Holmes-Pollock Letters: The Correspondence of MR Justice Holmes and Sir Frederick Pollock, 1874-1932, Two Volumes in One, Second Edition

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“Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.” 23 likes
“The first requirement of a sound body of law is, that it should correspond with the actual feelings and demands of the community, whether right or wrong.” 3 likes
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