Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Legal history reviewed in the JAH

The December 2010 issue of the Journal of American History is out, and the Book Reviews section covers a number of legal histories.
  • Alan Taylor (UC Davis) on Lisa Ford, Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788-1836 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010). Taylor calls the book a "provocative comparative history," in which the author "astutely examines the role of the common law in asserting settler sovereignty over native people." The main comparison is between the American state of Georgia and the British colony of New South Wales. (pp. 794-95)
  • Rose Stremlau (University of North Carolina at Pembroke) on David A. Chang, The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). According to Stremlau, Chang has identified a "microcosm" -- a territory "that included Creeks and other indigenous peoples as well as black and white Americans" -- that "enables an in-depth analysis of the construction of race and nation in relation to the possession of land and the assertion of power over it." (pp. 818-19)
  • John E. Murray (University of Toledo) on Donald W. Rogers, Making Capitalism Safe: Work Safety and Health Regulation in America, 1880-1940 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009). Murray describes the book as "a close reading of the political development of industrial safety regulation during a period of great change in both politics and industry." The book focuses on Wisconsin. (p. 840)
  • James L. Flannery (University of Pittsburgh) on James D. Schmidt, Industrial Violence and the Legal Origins of Child Labor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). In Flannery's words, the book "focus[es] on a question that has received little attention" in the literature on the Progressive Era: "How was the legal conception of child labor . . . written into the nation's social and cultural consciousness?" Schmidt uses trial court records from the Appalachian South to suggest an answer. (pp. 840-41)
  • Edward A. Purcell Jr. (New York Law School) on Melvin I. Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis: A Life (New York: Pantheon, 2009). Purcell calls the book "comprehensive, deeply informed, and graceful." He predicts that it will "stand for decades as the definitive biography" on Brandeis. (pp. 841-42)
  • Zebulon Vance Miletsky (University of Nebraska) on Fay Botham, Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Press, 2009). According to Miletsky, Botham's book contributes to the literature on race and marriage by utilizing the "lens of religion." She forces the reader "to rethink how religious ideologies" (regionally specific variants of Catholicism and Protestantism) "influenced the course of litigation on interracial marriage." (pp. 852-53)
  • Mark R. Scherer (University of Nebraska) on Frank Pommersheim, Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). Scherer describes the book as an "extremely readable synthesis of two centuries' worth of jurisdictional complexity." The book also includes a proposed solution, in the form of a constitutional amendment, to the "doctrinal confusion" in this area. (p. 887)
We like to provide links to full content, but the JAH is not open access. Subscribers can read the reviews online at the JAH website or at History Cooperative.