"The scope and profundity of learning displayed in the text is awesome. . . . A first-rate book."—Michael H. Hoefflich, University of Illinois School of LawWhy is the law notoriously unclear, arcane, slow to change in the face of changing circumstances? In this sweeping comparative analysis of the lawmaking process from ancient Rome to the present day, Alan Watson argues that the answer has largely to do with the mixed ancestry of modern law, the confusion of sources—custom, legislation, scholarly writing, and judicial precedent—from which it derives.
"The author has done an astounding job in illustrating, in so few pages, what a hash judges and lawyers have made of their sources over the centuries and across the breadth of what was once thought of as Western civilization."—Law and History Review
"A valuable and ambitious discussion of the 'sources of law'—how law is developed and what authority gives it legitimacy."—Michigan Law Review
Alan Watson is Earnest P. Rogers Professor of Law, University of Georgia. He is the author of many books of legal history, including Rome of the Twelve Tables; Roman Slave Law; and Failures of the Legal Imagination, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.