A law book recommendation: Pretentiousness: Why It Matters by Dan Fox

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cznoSl.
Google has served as Fox’s busy research assistant, and his book is choked with lists and quotes, which are the shield of pretension he holds out to defend his thesis. But at last he dispenses with academic citations and ends autobiographically…
Book description from Google Books:
Pretentiousness is for anyone who has braved being different, whether that’s making a stand against artistic consensus or running the gauntlet of the last bus home dressed differently from everyone else. It’s an essential ingredient in pop music and high art. Why do we choose accusations of elitism over open-mindedness? What do our anxieties about “pretending” say about us? Co-editor of frieze, Europe’s foremost magazine of contemporary art and culture, Dan Fox has authored over two hundred essays, interviews, and reviews and contributed to numerous catalogues and publications produced by major international art galleries and institutions.
The book is rated 3.77/5 at goodreads.com, from 260 ratings. See 40 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1QQM43a.
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A law book recommendation: Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2aE7q5d.
This rises far above satire or parody because what Poole actually says is largely both true and interesting. I don’t think anyone has subverted the smart-thinking genre like this before. That’s inspired rethinking.
Book description from Google Books:
A brilliant and groundbreaking argument that innovation and progress are often achieved by revisiting and retooling ideas from the past rather than starting from scratch—from The Guardian columnist and contributor to The Atlantic.Innovation is not always as innovative as it may seem. This is the story of how old ideas that were mocked or ignored for centuries are now storming back to the cutting edge of science and technology, informing the way we lead our lives. This is the story of Lamarck and the modern-day epigeneticist whose research vindicated his mocked 200-year-old theory of evolution; of the return of cavalry use in the war in Afghanistan; of Tesla’s bringing back the electric car; and of the cognitive scientists who made breakthroughs by turning to ancient Greek philosophy. Drawing on examples from business to philosophy to science, Rethink shows what we can learn by revisiting old, discarded ideas and considering them from a novel perspective. From within all these rich anecdotes of overlooked ideas come good ones, helping us find new ways to think about ideas in our own time—from out-of-the-box proposals in the boardroom to grand projects for social and political change. Armed with this picture of the surprising evolution of ideas and their triumphant second lives, Rethink helps you see the world differently. In the bestselling tradition of Malcolm Gladwell, Poole’s new approach to a familiar topic is fun, convincing, and brilliant—and offers a clear takeaway: if you want to affect the future, start by taking a look at the past.
The book is rated 3.64/5 at goodreads.com, from 50 ratings. See 12 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2aFe7r6.
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A law book recommendation: Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1UzB27Z.
“Free Speech” encourages us to take a breath, look hard at the facts and see how well-tried liberal principles can be applied and defended in daunting new circumstances.
Book description from Google Books:
Never in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have Internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.   Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more but also better free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a thirteen-language global online project–freespeechdebate.com–conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. With vivid examples, from his personal experience of China’s Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo to a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson, he proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world where we are all becoming neighbors.
The book is rated 3.97/5 at goodreads.com, from 78 ratings. See 13 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/23fzXEf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2terKEB.

A law book recommendation: Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention by Mary Sarah Bilder

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2aBmt2P.
This thoroughly researched and elegantly written book tells the story of a remarkable Founding Father and the exhaustive notes he set down during the sweltering summer of 1787…
Book description from Google Books:
No document depicts the Constitutional Convention’s charismatic figures, crushing disappointments, and miraculous triumphs with the force of Madison’s Notes. But how reliable is this account? Drawing on digital technologies and textual analysis, Mary Sarah Bilder reveals that Madison revised to a far greater extent than previously recognized.
The book is rated 3.39/5 at goodreads.com, from 18 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2aBlK1G.
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A law book recommendation: Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2ddhNnN.
…It embraces the internet as a work in progress. It’s an enjoyable snapshot, perhaps imperfect, but always dangerously close to receding from view as we scroll onto whatever’s next.
Book description from Google Books:
Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) reveals the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet.Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does. Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.
The book is rated 3.56/5 at goodreads.com, from 311 ratings. See 78 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ctK1I6.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sBATXt.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A law book recommendation: Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1UzB27Z.
“Free Speech” encourages us to take a breath, look hard at the facts and see how well-tried liberal principles can be applied and defended in daunting new circumstances.
Book description from Google Books:
Never in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have Internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.   Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more but also better free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a thirteen-language global online project–freespeechdebate.com–conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. With vivid examples, from his personal experience of China’s Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo to a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson, he proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world where we are all becoming neighbors.
The book is rated 3.97/5 at goodreads.com, from 78 ratings. See 13 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/23fzXEf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2terKEB.

A law book recommendation: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/25NyYwD.
Those of us who believe in the principles of democracy and justice would do well to witness, as detailed in Hinton’s pages, the shameful theft of liberty in this so-called land of the free.
Book description from Google Books:
In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the “land of the free” become the home of the world’s largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America’s prison problem originated with the Reagan administration’s War on Drugs, Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society at the height of the civil rights era. Johnson’s War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans’ role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson to call for a simultaneous War on Crime. The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act empowered the national government to take a direct role in militarizing local police. Federal anticrime funding soon incentivized social service providers to ally with police departments, courts, and prisons. Under Richard Nixon and his successors, welfare programs fell by the wayside while investment in policing and punishment expanded. Anticipating future crime, policymakers urged states to build new prisons and introduced law enforcement measures into urban schools and public housing, turning neighborhoods into targets of police surveillance. By the 1980s, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality. The initiatives of that decade were less a sharp departure than the full realization of the punitive transformation of urban policy implemented by Republicans and Democrats alike since the 1960s.
The book is rated 3.98/5 at goodreads.com, from 113 ratings. See 23 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1YftbOb.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ty24WZ.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A law book recommendation: East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” by Philippe Sands

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dfxYeL.
Barack Obama and his successors would be well advised to move to the top of their reading lists this account of the birth, amid the darkest conceivable shadows, of an unprecedented body of rights-based law, whose application has scarcely begun.
Book description from Google Books:
A profound and profoundly important book a moving personal detective story, an uncovering of secret pasts, and a book that explores the creation and development of world-changing legal concepts that came about as a result of the unprecedented atrocities of Hitler s Third Reich. “East West Street” looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of genocide and crimes against humanity, both of whom, not knowing the other, studied at the same university with the same professors, in a city little known today that was a major cultural center of Europe, the little Paris of Ukraine, a city variously called Lemberg, Lwow, Lvov, or Lviv. It begins in 2010 and moves backward and forward in time, from the present day to twentieth-century Poland, France, Germany, England, and America, ending in the courtroom of the Palace of Justice at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1945. The book opens with the author being invited to give a lecture on genocide and crimes against humanity at Lviv University, welcomed as the first international law academic to give a lecture there on such subjects in fifty years. Sands accepted the invitation with the intent of learning about the extraordinary city with its rich cultural and intellectual life, home to his maternal grandfather, a Galician Jew who had been born there a century before and who d moved to Vienna at the outbreak of the First World War, married, had a child (the author s mother), and who then had moved to Paris after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. It was a life that had been shrouded in secrecy, with many questions not to be asked and fewer answers offered if they were. As the author uncovered, clue by clue, the deliberately obscured story of his grandfather s mysterious life and of his flight first to Vienna and then to Paris, and of his mother s journey as a child surviving Nazi occupation, Sands searched further into the history of the city of Lemberg and realized that his own field of humanitarian law had been forged by two men Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht each of whom had studied law at Lviv University in the city of his grandfather s birth, each of whom had come to be considered the finest international legal mind of the twentieth century, each considered to be the father of the modern human rights movement, and each, at parallel times, forging diametrically opposite, revolutionary concepts of humanitarian law that had changed the world. In this extraordinary and resonant book, Sands looks at who these two very private men were, and at how and why, coming from similar Jewish backgrounds and the same city, studying at the same university, each developed the theory he did, showing how each man dedicated this period of his life to having his legal concept genocide and crimes against humanity as a centerpiece for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. And the author writes of a third man, Hans Frank, Hitler s personal lawyer, a Nazi from the earliest days who had destroyed so many lives, friend of Richard Strauss, collector of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. Frank oversaw the ghetto in Lemberg in Poland in August 1942, in which the entire large Jewish population of the area had been confined on penalty of death. Frank, who was instrumental in the construction of concentration camps nearby and, weeks after becoming governor general of Nazi-occupied Poland, ordered the transfer of 133,000 men, women, and children to the death camps. Sands brilliantly writes of how all three men came together, in October 1945 in Nuremberg Rafael Lemkin; Hersch Lauterpacht; and in the dock at the Palace of Justice, with the twenty other defendants of the Nazi high command, prisoner number 7, Hans Frank, who had overseen the extermination of more than a million Jews of Galicia and Lemberg, among them, the families of the author s grandfather as well as those of Lemkin and Lauterpacht. A book that changes the way we look at the world, at our understanding of history and how civilization has tried to cope with mass murder. Powerful; moving; tender; a revelation.”
The book is rated 4.48/5 at goodreads.com, from 848 ratings. See 122 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1Ogwz9A.
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A law book recommendation: Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics? by Mark Thompson

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eyFNNl.
I don’t think this book will change the continuing debates about “bias” and “objectivity,” the separation of the public into distinct fact universes…But it offers many instructive allusions, useful judgments and important refinements on these themes…
Book description from Google Books:
There’s a crisis of trust in politics across the western world. Public anger is rising and faith in conventional political leaders and parties is falling. Anti-politics, and the anti-politicians, have arrived. In Enough Said, President and CEO of The New York Times Company Mark Thompson argues that one of the most significant causes of the crisis is the way our public language has changed. Enough Said tells the story of how we got from the language of FDR and Churchill to that of Donald Trump. It forensically examines the public language we’ve been left with: compressed, immediate, sometimes brilliantly impactful, but robbed of most of its explanatory power. It studies the rhetoric of western leaders from Reagan and Thatcher to Berlesconi, Blair, and today’s political elites on both sides of the Atlantic. And it charts how a changing public language has interacted with real world events – Iraq, the financial crash, the UK’s surprising Brexit from the EU, immigration – and led to a mutual breakdown of trust between politicians and journalists, to leave ordinary citizens suspicious, bitter, and increasingly unwilling to believe anybody. Drawing from classical as well as contemporary examples and ranging across politics, business, science, technology, and the arts, Enough Said is a smart and shrewd look at the erosion of language by an author uniquely placed to measure its consequences.
The book is rated 4.02/5 at goodreads.com, from 94 ratings. See 19 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eyHdrp.
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A law book recommendation: In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies by David Rieff

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2aekfGp.
This rich book provides a field guide to a more decent politics of forgiveness, in which Trump and Trumpism may one day be mercifully forgotten too.
Book description from Google Books:
The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana’s celebrated phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly absolute. And yet is this right? David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, “inoculate” the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds–whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces–neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option–sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget.   Ranging widely across some of the defining conflicts of modern times–the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising of 1916, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11–Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant, and elegant essay is an indispensable work of moral philosophy.
The book is rated 3.46/5 at goodreads.com, from 81 ratings. See 17 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2adom2A.
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