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Cannibalism and Common Law: A Victorian Yachting Tragedy
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Cannibalism and Common Law: A Victorian Yachting Tragedy

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  22 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Cannibalism and the Common Law is an enthralling classic of legal history. It tells the tragic story of the yacht Mignonette, which foundered on its way from England to Australia in 1884. The killing and eating of one of the crew, Richard Parker, led to the leading case in the defence of necessity, R. v. Dudley and Stephens. It resulted in their being convicted and sentenc ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 2nd 2003 by Bloomsbury Academic (first published January 1st 1984)
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jennifer
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A look at all the different ways the legal system can interpret cannibalism for survival. Simpson profiles cases of frontier cannibalism, touching briefly on the Donner Party, then more extensively on Alferd G. Packer, "The Colorado Man-Eater". Much of the book involves murder and cannibalism at sea, a situation known as "the custom of the sea", which was not uncommon in days when ship owners would intentionally send crews out with insufficient food simply to cut costs. Many of the chapters are ...more
Amy
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Meticulously researched and full of minutiae that probably alienates most readers. I was intrigued in school with the trial and punishment of people for whom continued living with an awareness of the consequences of their decisions seems like punishment enough. Who? Parents who refused medical care and watch their children die from curable diseases or accidents. And then those addressed in this book: survival cannibalists. The book starts with a history of Victorian yachting, moves to ...more
Mike Harper
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an uneven book: strong as it relates the procedural history of the cannibalism case, still OK as it tells a series of gruesome stories of survival, but too full of details that can be of little interest to the reader. There are, for instance, scores of pages devoted to a who's who of Victorian yachting.
If the reader can get through the unnecessary detail, paying attention selectively to the facts that mattered to the case, there's lots here to like. I particularly enjoyed the descriptio
...more
Mike
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An idiosyncratic but comprehensive look at the leading case of Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, about, yes, maritime cannibalism, Simpson also provides an examination of other notorious instances of survival cannibalism in order to construct a sort of opinio juris of the practice. Quite often mordantly funny, the book also provides the epigram to the Mountain Goats album Tallahassee.
Jennifer
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good!
Kathryn McCary
Correct edition
Ren
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Legally interesting and not at all sensationalised. Does verge on dry at times, but makes up for it with plenty of meaty historical info (pun totally intended).
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