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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, has been called the greatest jurist and legal scholar in the history of the English-speaking world. In this collection of his speeches, opinions and letters, Richard Posner reveals the fullness of Holmes' achievements as judge, historian, philosopher and master of English style. Thematically arranged, the volume covers a variety of subjects from aging and death to themes in politics, personalities, and law. Posner's substantial introduction firmly places this wealth of material in its biographical and historical context.
A scathing attack on the idea of American Puritanism and the doctrine of Original Sin, Elsie Venner is the story of a young woman who, having been poisoned by rattlesnake venom while in the womb, emerges into the world half human, half snake. An intelligent and wealthy heiress, she repulses and fascinates those around her in equal measure. She falls in love with a young doctor, but her serpentine characteristics prevent him from returning her affection; her cousin is attracted by her money and, wrongly perceiving the doctor as his rival, determines upon his downfall. First published in 1861, this is a wonderfully inventive novel that meticulously dissects for the reader the social mores of small-town America in the middle of the nineteenth century, as viewed through the prism of Olive Wendell Holmes' powerful imagination.
Much more than an historical examination of liability, criminal law, torts, bail, possession and ownership, and contracts, "The Common Law" articulates the ideas and judicial theory of one of the greatest justices of the Supreme Court. G. Edward White reminds us why the book remains essential reading not only for law students but also for anyone interested in American history. The text published is, with occasional corrections of typographical errors, identical with that found in the first and all subsequent printings by Little, Brown.
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