Reflections on the 40th Anniversary of Hurst's Growth of American Law
15 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2010 Last revised: 9 Feb 2010
Date Written: January 1, 1992
It is well known that James Willard Hurst's The Growth of American Law "represented something new" and that it "dissolved constraints" and helped start Hurst's successful effort to expose "the hitherto invisible ways in which the apparently most commonplace incidents of a legal order illuminate social values." In the early 1950s, reviewers recognized the book as a pioneering effort. Time has enhanced Hurst's achievement. He is the legal historian who broke out of the limits of traditional legal history. His work made him "the leading exponent and practitioner of an external historiography." Although the legal process approach began to supersede legal realism in American law schools in the wake of World War II, Hurst's book actually was the first sustained example of legal realist history.
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