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The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O. J. Simpson

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  13 reviews
For as long as accuser and accused have faced each other in public, criminal trials have been establishing far more than who did what to whom-and in this fascinating book, Sadakat Kadri surveys four thousand years of courtroom drama. A brilliantly engaging writer, Kadri journeys from the silence of ancient Egypt's Hall of the Dead to the clamor of twenty-first-century ...more
Hardcover, 459 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Random House (NY)
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Jun 30, 2008 rated it liked it
What Kadri has here is a bunch of anecdotes that don't hold together. When there's analysis, there's no depth to it -- it reads like TIME magazine -- and Kadri writes like a courtroom lawyer showing off to his students in some distribution-requirement class, throwing sarcastic jabs into the sentences wherever they fit at whomever he happens to be writing about at that moment. The result is a basically condescending book which could have been titled "People involved in trials say the darndest ...more
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it
This should properly have been titled Western Trials or Jury Trials. While it is understandable that the author, given his background, would focus on the British and American trial systems, the book, in my opinion, treats the entire continental judicial system somewhat dismissively and completely ignores all other judicial systems as if they do not exist.

At the very least, you would have thought the Chinese, Arab and Indian systems worthy of a passing mention.

But if you accept the book as merely
Sajith Kumar
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Irrespective of the social and technical level of progress, all human societies are afflicted with crime. The definition of crime varies between cultures, but the more heinous ones like murder, rape and loot invite condemnation from one’s fellow beings at all times. Investigation of the crime to find the culprit and the way in which punishment is given to him has undergone tremendous changes over the last 4000 years. Ordeals by fire and water are no longer practiced, as do public executions in ...more
Azaad Sadiq
This was an informative, engaging and often humorous account of the history of the trial, a staple of judicial history. Kadri's background as a barrister means he comes to the subject matter with not just academic knowledge but also practical experience, which allows him to give a unique and valuable insight into the history of trials, especially in relation to how famous trials affected legal practice. However, Kadri is aware that he is not just writing for professors, and his writing style is ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, law
At the outset, the book already sets the expectation that this book charts the history of the trial in western culture, so I can't fault it for that, but I now find myself wanting a similar work that focused on the global history of the trial.

Anyway, I thought the book was pretty uneven. A lot of the medieval stuff (or, let's say, the first four or five chapters) was ponderous and overlong, but there were several very interesting tidbits that definitely stuck out to me (like the Saga of Burnt
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ülkemiz hukukçularının aslında mutlaka okuması gerektiği ancak von Tuhr’un seksenli yıllarda basılan ve borçlar hukukumuzun temel doktrini olan eserinin depolarda çürüdüğü ülkemizde asla ikinci baskısını yapamayacak olan mükemmel eser.
Josh Muhlenkamp
The most fun I had in law school was when I was in Trial Advocacy and Mock Trial. I loved trials, and I was good at them (comparatively...against more experienced lawyers, I still have a bit to learn, I'm sure). So a book about the history of trials was always going to be interesting.

I will admit, though, that I was worried this was going to be like most histories of a thing, rather than a place or a person or an event...lurching from one anecdote to another, or chock-full of very dry
Criminal barrister Alex McBride has chosen to discuss The Trial: A History from Socrates to O J Simpson by Sadakat Kadri, on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Trial By Jury, saying that:

“…This is a jolly good read and informative about how trials fit together in history and there is a good bit about how the English trial by jury came about. At the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 Pope Innocent III decided you couldn’t ask God to decide on earthly affairs and so the old trial by
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
an amazing book about the evolution of trial courts --- I love the chapters about trial by ordeal and trial by battle as well as the bit about icelandic adjudication rules....and since I am in an evidence class now, I can say with renewed clarity that I totally get the impetus to pick up a battle axe and just bludgeon the whole lot rather than deal with a lone by line reading of the code.

The book looses some steam after the bit about the Moscow show trials. But that is a great chapter--those
Paul Blaney
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Very much story-led rather than theory. That's not a bad thing, but the book could have done with a good edit to help bring out some of its themes and arguments.
Smith Nickerson
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nice comparisons made between past and present witch hunts. I always tend to go into hiding when these things occur.
Dec 28, 2006 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Got this book for free from a firm. Not a bad read, and some interesting historical tidbits. A bit too much to bite off for a single volume though.
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