Friday, September 23, 2011

The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts and Property: Forthcoming: Intellectual Property and Income Tax Law

The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law is a series of books on specific fields of law. They are currently available in paperback in four subject areas: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts and Property. Our review of this series is based on the information value of these volumes and let us say this -- this is a lot of knowledge at a bargain price.






Each volume is written by one or more legal experts in the respective legal field: Constitutional Law by Michael C. Dorf with Trevor W. Morrison, Contracts by Randy E. Barnett, Torts by John C.P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky and Property by Thomas W. Merrill and Henry E. Smith.

Scheduled for publication in December 2011 are two additional volumes under editor Dennis Patterson: Intellectual Property by Daniel Hunter and Income Tax Law by Edward McCaffery.

For those interested, Oxford Law at Oxford University Press also maintains a Law Librarian Newsletter and E-Alerts on these and selected other areas of legal interest which can be subscribed to here. Currently available E-Alerts are: 1) Arbitration & Litigation, 2) Banking, Insurance, and Securities, 3) Commercial, 4) Communications & Internet, 5) Competition, 6) Constitution Law, 7) Corporate Finance, 8) Customs, 9) Environmental, 10) Ethics, 11) European Union, 12) Human Rights, 13) Intellectual Property, 14) International Criminal Law, 15) International Trade, 16) Legal Reference, 17) Maritime/Shipping, and 18) Public International Law.

We have obtained complimentary review copies of the four available books in the series, each of which can be viewed as a primer in the respective legal field and each of which is thus intended for students, but is in fact also suitable for reading by just about anyone who wants to get a good grasp of the legal fundamentals in a chosen area of American law.
  1. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law, by Michael C. Dorf and Trevor W. Morrison in paperback covers 268 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195370034, ISBN10: 0195370031, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.
    The Authors in this case (in the editorial version by the publisher of the Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law) are:
    "Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School....
    Trevor W. Morrison is Professor of Law at Columbia Law School....
    Dorf is more the Constitutional Law theoretician and Morrison more the legal pragmatist, and that is how they have have divided up the chapters. Although the two authors use what is described as "the plural authorial voice", i.e. "we", Dorf is considered the principal author, having penned chapters 1-4 (Who Decides?, Judicial Review, Constitutional Interpretation, Federalism) and 6-8 (Equal Protection, Enumerated Rights: The First Amendment, Unenumerated Rights), while Morrison penned chapter 5 (Separation of Powers) and chapters 9-10 (Congressional Enforcement of Constitutional Rights, Beyond the Courts).

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law  presents an accessible introduction to the enduring topics of American constitutional law, including judicial review, methods of interpretation, federalism, separation of powers, equal protection, and individual liberties....

    This introduction to American constitutional law critically examines the work of the Supreme Court of the United States, which has resolved thousands of constitutional controversies based on the shortest national constitution on the planet. The authors also look beyond the Supreme Court, exploring the arguments for and against judicial review and various versions of popular constitutionalism."
  2. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts, by Randy E. Barnett in paperback covers 284 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780199740185, ISBN10: 0199740186, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy:
    "Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center."
    Randy Barnett presents us with the "big picture" of contracts, synthesizing key doctrines and cases and presenting a clear and concise view of the evolution and rationale of contacts law.

    Individual consent is at the basis of civilization and democracy in our modern world and in the book "consent" is the basic philosophical rationale that serves as the governing principle for modern contract law.

    Barnett has an author's posting on this book at The Volokh Conspiracy.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts provides students with ready access to the basic doctrines of contract law, the story behind their evolution, and the rationales for their continued existence. An engaging book that allows students to grasp the “big picture” of contract law, it is organized around the principle that lies at the heart of contracts: consent. Beginning with the premise of “consent,” the book provides a cohesive framework in which to understand the various aspects of contract law."
  3. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Torts, by John C.P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky in paperback covers 436 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195373974, ISBN10: 0195373979, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.

    Torts is a word taking its origin from a meaning of "injury" and applies to a "wrong" inflicted on a person by another via breach of a civil -- rather than a contractual -- duty. For example, if someone is injured in an auto accident due to negligence, that is a tort. Libel and defamation are torts. Copyright infringement is a tort. It is different than a criminal violation against the State, which is a breach of a specific duty to society in general.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
     "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Torts provides a clear and comprehensive account of what tort law is, how it works, what it stands to accomplish, and why it is now much-disputed. Goldberg and Zipursky--two of the world's most prominent tort scholars--carefully analyze leading judicial decisions and prominent tort-related legislation, and place each event into its proper context. Topics covered include products liability, negligence, medical malpractice, intentional torts, defamation and privacy torts, punitive damages, and tort reform."
    Torts and tort reform are a controversial field in modern law. In their handling of "Damages and Apportionment", for example, Goldberg and Zipursky devote quite a number of pages to a discussion of punitive damages in torts, writing at the outset that:
    "Punitive damages -- also known as "exemplary" or "vindictive" damages -- are at the center of contemporary battles over tort law and tort reform."
    Goldberg and Zipursky give a fair and balanced presentation of this controversial topic about which the LawPundit has blogged extensively. See Punitive Damages: A Completey Failed Tort Doctrine Without Sensible Foundation in Legal Theory or Deterrent Fact.

    Just as an aside, it is interesting that law books can now also be touted via Twitter and this is one example -- see @law_book.
  4. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property, by Thomas W. Merrill and Henry E. Smith in paperback covers 284 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195314762, ISBN10: 019531476X, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property provides both a bird's eye overview of property law and an introduction to how property law affects larger concerns with individual autonomy, personhood, and economic organization. Written by two authorities on property law, this book gives students of property a coherent account of how property law works, with an emphasis on describing the central issues and policy debates. It is designed for law students who want a short and theoretically integrated treatment of the subject, as well as for lawyers who are interested in the conceptual foundations of the law of property."
    Merrill and Smith discuss for example the question of what "property" actually means in the real world, viewing "Owners as Gatekeepers":
    "Once an owner has acquired property, either by original acquisition or by transfer from a previous owners, the question becomes what exactly does such an owner have? ... The owner, as gatekeeper, has broad discretion to decide who has access to the property and and what terms...."
It is much like owning one or more volumes of this series of books on U.S. law.  Once you have them, YOU decide what to do with them and their value rests on your decisions. A law student, for example, who has these books at his or her disposal, and reads them, should better understand the legal issues under discussion. My view as a student always was, to better understand what the professors are speaking, read what they are writing.

We can, in any case, heartily recommend these books as useful tools and as great deals offering a lot of knowledge at a bargain price.
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