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The Evolution of Western Private Law

, 344 pages
October 2000
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The Evolution of Western Private Law
expanded edition

In The Evolution of Western Private Law, renowned legal scholar Alan Watson presents a comprehensive overview of legal change in the Western world. Watson explains why and how such change occurs in mature systems, in underdeveloped systems, and when legal systems of different levels of sophistication and from different societal roots—such as those of the Romans and of Germanic tribes—come into contact.

Originally intended as a second edition of the author's widely acclaimed The Evolution of Law (1985), this expanded edition has been completely restructured with more than double the number of examples. The result is a work that incorporates all the ideas that Watson has put forward during his twenty-five years studying comparative law and the development of legal systems, combining a remarkable range of sources with superb insight.

Alan Watson is the Ernest P. Rogers Professor and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. He is the author of Failures of the Legal Imagination, Slave Law in the Americas, International Law in Archaic Rome, and Roman Slave Law, the last two available from Johns Hopkins.

" The Evolution of Western Private Law is an innovative look at the development of the Western legal tradition. It makes an important contribution to the literature on legal history, and Watson has carefully examined the sources and the relevant legal documents. Although highly detailed and somewhat technical, Watson writes with great clarity."

"A pioneering work [that] bids fair to open up a new direction in legal history... This book maintains the scholarly standards of Watson's previous works, and it is certainly one of his most provocative offerings."

"A bold, brilliant, and provocative book that will occasion much debate in legal circles."

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