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Book Review


Courthouse facade.

Book Review

Exploring the Origins of America’s ‘Adversarial’ Legal Culture

by  Edward A. Purcell, Jr.  

Introduction Amalia D. Kessler’s Inventing American Exceptionalism is a tour de force of historical imagination, analysis, and synthesis. Asking fresh questions that open new vistas of understanding, her book illustrates some of the complex ways that social factors shape legal thinking on matters ranging from arcane procedural technicalities to fundamental institutional assumptions. Changing social and…

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paper wisdom

Book Review

The Lawyer/Judge as Republican Hero

by  Mark Tushnet  

Introduction Inventing American Exceptionalism tells a two-sided story. On one side is the replacement of the distinctive inquisitorial processes of equity courts with the adversarial ones of common-law courts. The equity courts relied heavily on taking testimony in writing and in secret, freezing the record so that parties could not shape their evidence in light…

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Interior View of the Ornate Supreme Court in Lansing, Michigan.

Book Review

Contextualizing Inventing American Exceptionalism

by  Richard White  

Amalia Kessler’s Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877 is a stunning legal history that is even richer than the author may have intended. I would not have thought that an analysis of the oral adversarial tradition in American law could provide the larger insights that her book does. This is…

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Beige US supreme court columns

Book Review

Introduction

Book Review Symposium on Inventing American Exceptionalism
by  Bernadette Meyler  

How, when, and why did Americans become convinced both that our system of civil justice is adversarial through and through and that adversarialism is normatively desirable? Professor Amalia Kessler’s highly engaging and dauntingly erudite new book, Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877, locates the answer to these questions in a…

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