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These three volumes include "materials drawn from 4000 years of legal history from the Code of Hammurabi of 2090 B.C. to the 1948 proceedings of the United Nations Commission on Atomic Energy," and are designed to "make possible a course either in a law school or elsewhere which will give an understanding of the part law has played in the social, economic, and cultural history of mankind and its role in domestic and world affairs today" (p. vii). They attempt, their authors declare, "to do what has been so much talked about—correlate law with the social sciences—and in the only way this can be accomplished in the present state of our social knowledge, by a comparative and historical study which is neither dilettante nor antiquarian, but which is directed ultimately and squarely to the central and pressing problems of the law in present day civilization" (p. x).
The organization of the book is, as promised, "historical" and its method "comparative." Volume I presents materials on "Law in a Kin-organized Society," "Law in an Emergent Political Society," "Law and the Rise of Commerce," and "Law and Expanding Industrialism." Volume II deals with "Law in Modern Democratic Society," and Volume III with "Law, Totalitarianism, and Democracy." With minor variations and differences in emphasis, the theme of development for each "stage" is from "social and ideological background" through "interests pressing and secured" to "the machinery of social control through law." For the content of the various sections the authors draw upon materials of the greatest variety: ancient and contemporary legislative prescriptions, judicial opinions, legal texts and articles, historical works, social science books, popular articles, public addresses, and so on. The great and the not so great, the famous and the unknown, the controversial and the dogmatic, the eloquent and the dull are paraded in a rapid succession of hundreds of items. The authors contribute a number of helpful introductions and explanatory notes. Some of the items in Volume III on the law of totalitarianism, for which the authors acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Schoch and Professor John Hazard, appear in English for the first time.
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