Lawyers and judges often make arguments based on history - on the authority of precedent and original constitutional understandings. They argue both to preserve the inspirational, heroic past and to discard its darker pieces - such as feudalism and slavery, the tyranny of princes and priests, and the subordination of women. In doing so, lawyers tame the unruly, ugly, embarrassing elements of the past, smoothing them into reassuring tales of progress. In a series of essays and lectures written over forty years, Robert W. Gordon describes and analyses how lawyers approach the past and the strategies they use to recruit history for present use while erasing or keeping at bay its threatening or inconvenient aspects. Together, the corpus of work featured in Taming the Past offers an analysis of American law and society and its leading historians since 1900.
This book assembles essays on legal sociology and legal history by an international group of distinguished scholars. All of them have been influenced by the eminent and prolific legal historian, legal sociologist and scholar of comparative law, Lawrence M. Friedman. Not just a Festschrift of essays by colleagues and disciples, this volume presents a sustained examination and application of Friedman's ideas and methods. Together, the essays in this volume show the powerful ripple effects of Friedman's work on American and comparative legal sociology, American and comparative legal history and the general sociology of law and legal change.