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Publisher's Summary

This is one of the true classics in world legal literature. Written by a master of law and language, it is a primary source book for anyone interested either in legal theory or political science. For the layman, it serves to clarify the very essence of the common law, the cornerstone of our present legal system.

©1994 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A landmark in intellectual history." (Mark DeWolfe Howe)

What listeners say about The Common Law

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great.

More like this please, for example, on Equity. Audible.com is doing a great job in providing legal education to the public. Thanks audible.com!

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  • Philo
  • 08-02-2013

For law geeks; not a light read

Here, the well-known jurist took a patient walk through the long development of many concepts in law, often starting in ancient times. As I teach law, I like to pick out anecdotes (for example, the image of an ancient bankrupt debtor having his body physically partitioned and the parts handed out to creditors -- not a world where one would casually buy a cappucino on the credit card). Ideas are traced from ancient forebears in the mists of pagan northern Europe and so on -- from vengeance, and seizure of many offending things (such as a tree that had fallen on a person, to the cutting off of lots of body parts), to the substitution of money damages, and other relatively kinder, gentler legal solutions of Holmes' day (here, the later 1800s). This book does for me what I like history to do: to provide a baseline to compare to things in my world today.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Shannon
  • 23-08-2009

I love Oliver Wendell Holmes (condensed)

I should have admired Holmes' wisdom and theories from afar or at least tackled this work only in printed form. Unlike most audiobooks, I had to actually pause my housework and concentrate fully to gain the meaning from this exhaustive verbosity. While I adored the style and language of Victorian Era literature, it was just too much for such a technical subject. I really wanted to make it through, but this one defeated me after a mere 4 hours.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 12-04-2006

Horrible Narration

I was sooo disappointed by the lack of inflection in the narration. A computer voice would have been about as effective. I recommend waiting until someone else narrates.

11 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Linsey
  • 01-11-2007

Impossible to listen to

Like the other reviewers, I found this book hard to listen to. In fact, for me, it was impossible. Not only is the recording/narration very challenging, but there are quite a few key terms used by the author in the original Latin. Unless you have an excellent ear for Latin, you will prefer the print edition, where you can see the spelling and check your Latin dictionary. I did buy the print edition, and the book is excellent. It is well worth the time and cost, if you can overcome the issues with with audio.

4 people found this helpful

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  • L.D.
  • 18-03-2017

A very Dense Read but Filled with Rich History

I thoroughly enjoyed this book overall. If the performance has been better meaning the person who read it had done a better job and I probably would have enjoyed and given five stars.

Not for everyone and definitely not to be considered a weekend light read or something to casual listen to in bed. I would say this book is specifically tailored to enrich those minds that have a passion for the law or a yearning to understand legal matters via historical references.

If this is you, then I would prepare for a great read by one of the most articulated & gifted Supreme Court Justices ever to grace the paper with a pen.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Edward
  • 08-05-2008

foundation of law

unless one has a background in basic law Holmes expatiatied knowledge of the law does get sort of boring, but contains wealth of info.to the legal student not available in recent texts.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sam Ryan
  • 04-05-2019

Great for what it is...

one of the fundamental primers of American law, I'm not sure if it would be possible to find a better book. however, keep in mind that the material is very dry and written in the late 1800s. there are times that I wished the reader would change inflection and/or his voice while reading certain passages, but that just seems nitpicky. The fact that somebody set down and red this treat use on the common law it's simply amazing and I can't wait to sit down at a later date and listen to it all again.

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  • Michael
  • 01-10-2016

Not a light read, but worth it.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Common Law to be better than the print version?

I think people should read the print version. You cannot catch every thought of Holmes by listening. This is a book which you must study and reread

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Common Law?

There isn't one memorable part per se, but it does explain a basis for our modern system. Legal theories would come after, but Holmes' work is a good start.

Any additional comments?

Look, I understand Holmes is catching a lot of flack for being a dense material. When you truly think about it or even re-listen to portions, things start to click. This certainly is not a light read or should be an audiobook, but this is a great classic of American law.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • E&M DeSpain
  • 13-08-2005

For Law Students ONLY

This book should be labeled, "Excellent Remedy for Insomnia. (Warning: Dangerous to listen to while driving. May cause drowsiness, sleepyness. Do not operate while using any machinery.)

The book actually isn't that bad, although one must have a enduring attention span to get through the many hours of this audio book. The chapters and content of this audio book could be organized and abreviated much better to make this book more interesting.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Happy Online Shopper
  • 10-02-2017

So-so.

It's not bad, but for one of the great classic works on the law, I didn't find it quite as engaging as I had hoped.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mrseagull
  • 17-01-2013

Terms should be defined and then used.

I was disappointed by that book. The narrator's old voice struggling pronounce Latin phrases correctly with the lack of translation gave me an impression that this book is written by somebody who knows a lot for somebody who knows equally a lot. The points he made are hidden for normal people who did not go through history, ethics, philosophy and read a huge quantities of books. The author quotes or refers to terms which without definition will make no sense to you. Imagine you go through a long trial and when court makes a judgment it is said to you in language you do not understand. What's the point listening to this complicating and long book when at the end the knowledge you get equals 30min with Wikipedia.

2 people found this helpful

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  • jeremy
  • 07-07-2013

Not really an audio book

Though this is a classic text, its dense and ponderous style does not, in my view, translate well to audio. It requires the kind of attention best (and more quickly) catered for by reading.

1 person found this helpful

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