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David D. Friedman
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Legal Systems Very Different From Ours

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  59 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Published 2016
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1. Chinese Law - the entry of people into government service sounds insane. They have to study all sorts of subjects and pass with good grades, but none of the subjects have the slightest thing to do with government or anything related. But it's the same as our own system. People go into government having a degree in, say, Philosophy and then a Masters in Medieval English Literature. The author says there are better ways of finding out if people are capable of studying and understanding concepts ...more
Christopher Hudson Jr.
As expected, David Friedman details lot of interesting information on various unique legal systems and customs. His comprehension of such a wide, and often bizarre, subject matter is truly impressive. Where the book suffers is it's readability. There's no consistent chapter format that would make it easy for the reader to process and compare cultures, and many chapters seem to drag along with uninteresting information. The two most coherent chapters happen to be the two not written by Friedman ...more
Aaron Gertler
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, but frequently dry, and the big ideas can be summarized in shorter form. If you think you might want to read it, start with this review, and see if the subject interests you enough to keep going.
J. Boo
Nov 14, 2017 is currently reading it
An older draft is found here:

Professor Friedman has kindly informed me that the finished book has recently been published and is available from various internet booksellers.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting subject matter, but the book is very rough around the edges - needed better editing I think.
N.G. Habsburg
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most history books will teach you about the standard aspects of a culture: it's kings and it's wars. Seldom do we get real insight into how a culture actually functioned. Having lived in England my entire life, I was still largely oblivios to much of what was within the chapter on the legal system of 19th century england. When thinking about political/legal/systems it can be very hard to imagine how a system could function differently: this book really helps solve that.

The chapter about 19th
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly interesting.
Max Martin
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Friedman covers the legal systems of 13 societies. Each is covered quickly, focusing often on the incentives that allowed the system to work. As the introduction says:

"The underlying idea is simple. All human societies face about the same problems. They deal with them in an interesting variety of different ways. All of them are grownups—there is little reason to believe that the people who created the legal systems of Imperial China, Periclean Athens, or saga-period Iceland were any less
Dio Mavroyannis
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really sure what to say about this book. In one sense, I think this book should be much larger since there are many more legal systems to discuss. On the other hand, it's a bit dry to just go through cultures one by one. I think this book has great content, it the evidence behind the theory in the author's other work "machinery of freedom". Yet there is very little exposition and context of the theory in this book. This may not be a problem as such but without a theory, the reader is often ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
An interesting delve into a handful of systems that work in ways ranging from odd to horrific to modern sensibilities. A bit dry in places and less complete than I'd like in others, it's nevertheless a fascinating read if you've got an interest in niche topics
Vagabond of Letters
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Read the draft on his website.
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I am an academic economist currently employed as a law professor, although I have never taken a course for credit in either field. My specialty, insofar as I have one, is the economic analysis of law, the subject of my book _Law's Order_.

In recent years I have created and taught two new law school seminars at Santa Clara University. One was on legal issues of the 21st century,
“In eighteenth-century England a system of professional police and prosecutors, government paid and appointed, was viewed as potentially tyrannical—worse still, French.” 1 likes
“That illustrates my rule of thumb for reading history: View with suspicion any anecdote that makes a good enough story to have survived on its literary merits.” 0 likes
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