Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bernstein Reviews Preyer's "Blackstone in America"

Just in time for tonight's session at the Massachusetts Historical Society in honor of the life and work of Kathryn Preyer, Richard B. Bernstein, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School, has published an H-Law review of Professor Preyer's posthumously published collection of essays, Blackstone in America, whose appearance we noted here.

Professor Bernstein's review commences:
Some books exist because they ought to exist. And some of those books exist because a great scholar’s friends and admirers make them happen. Kathryn Turner Preyer (1925-2005), for many years a professor of history at Wellesley College, published a select array of first-rate articles and a profusion of book reviews focusing on American constitutional and legal history in the Revolutionary, Confederation, and early national periods. Like another great scholar, Douglass G. Adair, Preyer hoped to gather her essays into a book, but did not live to achieve that goal. Again like Adair, Preyer had friends and colleagues who were ready and able to take on the unfinished task and see it through. It is our melancholy good fortune that discussions taking place at Preyer’s memorial at the 2005 American Society for Legal History (ASLH) Convention set in motion the effort that brought this book into being. But this is more than a memorial to a distinguished scholar--it is a book that should be put before every beginning student of American constitutional and legal history, to learn how a master of the craft does it. It is not merely a commemorative monument to a great career, but a monument for use. Blackstone in America sorts Preyer’s published work into three categories, each introduced by a leading scholar in the field. A general introduction by Stanley N. Katz, developing the eloquent in memoriam essay he wrote for the March 2006 Perspectives, rounds out the volume.