The best-selling first edition of Law 101 provided readers with a vividly written and indispensable portrait of our nation's legal system. Now, in this revised edition, Jay M. Feinman offers an updated survey of American law, spiced with new anecdotes and cases, and incorporating fresh material on topics ranging from the President's war powers, to intellectual property, standard form contracts, and eminent domain.
Here is an exceptionally clear introduction to law, covering the main subjects found in the first year of law school, giving us a basic understanding of how it all works. Readers are introduced to every aspect of the legal system, from constitutional law and the litigation process to tort law, contract law, property law, and criminal law. Feinman illuminates each discussion with many intriguing, outrageous, and infamous cases, from the scalding coffee case that cost McDonald's half a million dollars, to the sensational murder trial in Victorian London that led to the legal definition of insanity, to the epochal decision in Marbury v. Madison that gave the Supreme Court the power to declare state and federal laws unconstitutional. He broadens the reader's legal vocabulary, clarifying the meaning of everything from "due process" and "equal protection" in constitutional law, to the distinction between "murder" and "manslaughter" in criminal law. Perhaps most important, we learn that though the law is voluminous and complex, it is accessible to all.
Everyone who wants a better grasp of current legal issues--from students contemplating law school, to journalists covering the legislature or the courts, to fans of Court TV--will find here a wonderful source of information: a complete, clear, and colorful map of the American legal system.
"An entertaining and informative introduction to the law.... For journalists, those interested in the law, and fans of television law dramas, this book should be required reading."--Library Journal
Although it falls a long way short of delivering "everything you need to know" about American law, this basic text offers nonlawyers a concise, accessible overview of topics typically introduced in the first year of law school. Feinman, a law professor at Rutgers, cites seminal cases to highlight key concepts in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, torts, contracts, property, criminal law and criminal procedure. He does not minimize the actual complexity of these subjects, conceding variously that contract law has "tormented the most students," property law "most irritates students," conflicts of law "tortures students" and civil procedure is "the most alien." Nevertheless, he distinguishes his book from the various how-to-be-your-own-lawyer manuals on the market: "This one is fun to read." But how much fun is to be found here is questionable. Although Feinman does explore a few juicy cases, such as the successful lawsuit against McDonald's by a woman scalded by its extra-hot coffee and the headline-grabbing criminal prosecution of subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz, much of his book is a no-frills restatement of the most general legal principles, minus the titillating nuances. Uninitiated readers may prefer Feinman's regular-guy style ("some contracts just stink") to his more academic voice ("The decision in a particular case will depend on the level of generality at which the court states the controlling principle"). They may also wish he had provided a glossary for quick reference. But many readers, particularly those contemplating law school, will find this a painless introduction to American legal theory and practice. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
July 31, 2006
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