Over against such reference volumes as encyclopedias, which are intended to provide an overview and summary of a subject, and dictionaries, which defi ne a series of terms, "commentaries" generally consist of a collection of lectures or essays that discuss and explain in some detail particular topics and sources. In law, the best known and oldest of these is William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769). Others, which are equally prominent, include James Kent's Commentaries on American Law (1826) and Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833). This volume is presented in the spirit of the aforementioned treatises. It consists of several essays of contemporary comments and criticisms intended generally to inform and educate. The commentaries in this book have two collective purposes. First and foremost, they are intended to acquaint a new generation of students with thirteen classic books written by diverse sociolegal scholars. Second, they endeavor to demonstrate the contemporary theoretical relevance, the continuing legacy, of these classic writings.
Singly and collectively these books have a clear relation to the "classic" tradition in thought-a tradition that, although not always acknowledged, is of great signifi cance to current theorizing in law and society. "The essays in this collection will help a new generation of law and social science students engage with classic thinkers like Maine, Tarde, and Ehrlich, and understand their relevance to current theories and debates." -Max Travers, School of Sociology, University of Tasmania "This collection of essays, written by some of the leading experts in contemporary sociolegal studies, should prove especially helpful in the teaching of law and society scholarship today so that the generations of tomorrow, too, will be knowledgeable about and inspired by the foundational works to which any serious scholarship must always be indebted." -Mathieu Defl em, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina "Students of law and society need the deep perspective on the whole sociolegal fi eld that can be gained only by engaging seriously with its rich theoretical heritage.
This book provides a valuable and timely critical introduction to many of the great classics that have shaped the traditions of this exciting research area."-Roger Cotterrell, Department of Law, Queen Mary and Westfi eld College, University of London