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The Common Law

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  337 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Based on the lectures - which were given at the Lowell Institute in Boston and subsequently published in 1880, this title mirrors what common law is: a complex and diffuse combination of actual cases, history, analysis, and philosophy - all woven together to create the rules by which we live.
Paperback, 302 pages
Published February 21st 2004 by Barnes Noble (first published 1963)
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Jun 08, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2012 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 experiencing.”

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 ambiguous laws leads to trouble and chaos. Oliver traces the history of criminal law, fraud, liability, the common good, propert
Jun 12, 2009 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 06, 2012 Tom rated it it was ok
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
Don Weidinger
Jun 19, 2014 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 19, 2007 Lindsey is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
For school...
Aug 24, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law, non-fiction
He's way off on the law. Something to do with a hundred years of history, and a different jurisdiction.
Craig Bolton
The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1991)
Chauncey Bird
This book is a must read, but it is dense.
May 31, 2009 Leadmixer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2012 Nick Hunt rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 22, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2011 Sam Snideman rated it it was ok
Shelves: law-school
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.
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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
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“Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.” 29 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.” 5 likes
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