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Laura Kalman's monograph, originally a dissertation, is nevertheless a fresh and rather engaging study of a finished chapter in intellectual history—the legal realist movement. It flourished in the 1930s, revived in another form after World War II, and then faded away around 1960, when Kalman ends her work. By that time, legal realism had left an indistinct legacy that was widely shared. It was always a rather shapeless growth, even in its prime.

Kalman proposes to give the movement some coherence by concentrating on its manifestations at the Yale Law School. Yet, after an introductory chapter in which she locates realism in the broader setting of functionalism as a way of doing history and other social sciences, the second chapter is about Harvard Law School; much of the third chapter is about curricular changes at Columbia and Yale. Late in the day, Yale occupies all of the fourth and fifth chapters; but the sixth and last again turns to Harvard.

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