Law and Revolution

Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Harvard 1983).

Professor Berman, in one of the 20th century's most important legal histories,
concludes that ‘the history of Western law, and especially of its origins, reveals its rootedness in the deepest beliefs and emotions of a people. Without the fear of purgatory and the hope of the Last Judgment, the Western legal tradition could not have come into being’ (p. 558). This is the challenging thesis of a powerfully argued history and theory of law and jurisprudence. Berman methodically (and repeatedly) takes aim at the prevailing dogmas and Idols of the Theater in conventional scholarship of every trendy ideological stripe in a synthesis of polemic, analysis, and narrative history presenting a master of his craft at his magisterial best. This is an outstanding book, perhaps a great one.

Ellis Sandoz, Book Review, 45 La. L. Rev. 1111 (1985).

Law and Revolution is neither an easy nor a quick read (558 pages, plus notes and index), but it is an important book, well worth the effort.

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