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Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769) stands as the first great effort to reduce the English common law to a unified and rational system. Blackstone demonstrated that the English law as a system of justice was comparable to Roman law and the civil law of the Continent. Clearly and elegantly written, the work achieved immediate renown and exerted a powerful influence on legal education in England and in America which was to last into the late nineteenth century. The book is regarded not only as a legal classic but as a literary masterpiece.Previously available only in an expensive hardcover set, Commentaries on the Laws of England is published here in four separate volumes, each one affordably priced in a paperback edition. These works are facsimiles of the eighteenth-century first edition and are undistorted by later interpolations. Each volume deals with a particular field of law and carries with it an introduction by a leading contemporary scholar.In his introduction to this first volume, Of the Rights of Persons, Stanley N. Katz presents a brief history of Blackstone's academic and legal career and his purposes in writing the Commentaries. Katz discusses Blackstone's treatment of the structure of the English legal system, his attempts to justify it as the best form of government, and some of the problems he encountered in doing so.
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