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Prof. Ward Farnsworth's The Legal Analyst:

Ward Farnsworth, a friend of mine who teaches at Boston University law school, has just published a new book, The Legal Analyst. It's an excellent book, especially for law students and incoming law students — thoughtful, well-written, and useful.

I'm delighted to say that Ward will be guest-blogging about the book next week. For now, here's a brief summary from the Preface:

The book is a user’s guide to tools for thinking about legal questions. It divides up the world of law according to techniques for thinking about it, then gives lots of examples of how the techniques work — a bit of criminal or tort law here, a bit of contract or constitutional law there, and so forth. In essence I’ve tried to take the most interesting ideas one learns about in law school — or should learn, or might wish to have learned --­ and explain them in ways that are clear and that convey why thinking about legal questions is an exciting, intellectually satisfying activity (or why some of us think so, anyway).

This might sound like a book for law students, or for people heading to law school, and it is indeed meant to help them; when a new recruit asks me what they might find helpful to read during the summer before law school, I’ve never been sure what to suggest, and this book should be a help to them. But it is also meant for anyone else interested in law, professional or amateur. This is the book I would have liked before I went to law school, when I understood almost none of what it explains. It also is the book I would have liked when I got out of law school, at which time I understood about half of it. It even is the book I’d like to have had at various earlier points during my teaching career, as when I wasn’t sure about the meaning of a stag hunt or the conjunction paradox.

See also the Table of Contents and these three sample chapters, all available at The Legal Analyst site.

Disclosure: One of the chapters is adapted from my The Mechanisms of the Slippery Slope.

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