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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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