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A Book of Legal Lists: The Best and Worst in American Law

By Bernard Schwartz


A collection of lists of 10 (best and worst justices, cases, and so on), with short passages on each entry, this book is entertaining and accessible.

202 pages
Oxford University Press (1998)


Reviewed by: Eric Howard

Bernard Schwartz is the author of A History of the Supreme Court a judicial biography of Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases, and he brings considerable erudition and scholarship to A Book of Legal Lists. Although this book features trivia questions, it rises above the trivial.

The book begins with the list of the 10 greatest Supreme Court Justices, with, predictably, John Marshall as number one. Each justice receives about two pages explaining his contribution to American jurisprudence. An atypical and welcome feature of this list and others is a passage at the end explaining Schwartz's reasoning. Twelve other lists follow, each with a similar treatment, including the worst Supreme Court Justices, best and worst Supreme Court decisions, greatest lawyers, best and worst non-Supreme Court decisions, and even the 10 greatest legal motion pictures (Anatomy of a Murder ranks first).

It is easy to open the book to one of its lists or to its trivia questions and spend a few minutes learning of how great—or how extremely bad—American law and its lawyers have been. A Book of Legal Lists is an excellent book to keep within reach of the of one's favorite armchair.


Eric Howard is associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer.

     





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