Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fernandez on Deal, "The Law of the Whale Hunt"

Over at JOTWELL, Angela Fernandez has posted an admiring review of Robert Deal, The Law of the Whale Hunt: Dispute Resolution, Property Law, and American Whalers, 1780-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Here's a taste:
This book is an excellent read. Given its exploration of the great gulf between law-on-the-ground and law-in-the-courts, it has the potential to become a classic law and society study. It is particularly useful for legal historians interested in the way that history complicates our understanding of economic self-interest. The whalemen were primarily motivated by economic self-interest, there is no question. Yet the tight-knit nature of their group and their hazardous physical surroundings made ethical conduct (at least towards one another if not the whales) essential. That conduct required a certain kind of flexibility that we fail to understand if we continue to insist, as judges and lawyers of the day did, on reducing the norms they followed to a legal rule or custom.
Read on here.

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