From the Publisher
"Too little is written about the more interesting personalities of the law, particularly its most cloistered members, the judges. From amongst the thousands of potential candidates who have worked in the common law courts during the 300 years covered by this work, Professor Hutchinson has picked an eclectic mixture of eight individuals to illustrate his theme that character not learning is the key to judicial greatness. [His] evaluations and commentary on each of them are as idiosyncratic as the author himself, and just as entertaining."
Honorable Mr Justice William Ian Corneil Binnie, Supreme Court of Canada (retired)
"The book is both original and important. It will be well-received by anyone interested in law, legal institutions, and the craft of judging. More generally, Hutchinson shows how law and its personnel respond over time to changing conditions and expectations. Readers of all backgrounds will relish the human aspects of the common law and appreciate the social impact of the work of those judges whose stories are told here."
Professor Amanda L. Tyler, George Washington University Law School
"A fascinating book, as much about the nature of greatness as about what makes for a great judge. Maverick and stubborn, greatness seems to lie also in the ability to make the innovative and previously unforeseen solutions seem absolute common sense. A persuasive account of eight great judges, providing food for thought about their legacies."
Rebecca Huxley-Binns, Times Higher Education
Hutchinson (law, York Univ., Toronto; Is Eating People Wrong?: Great Legal Cases and How They Shaped the World) has written a breezy, informative account of eight judges who "blaze entirely fresh trails" because "common law is a work in progress." The judges profiled here share a few key similarities: they have strong opinions of right and wrong, they are mavericks, and they like to perform. The book begins with 18th-century England's Lord Chief Justice William Murray, Earl of Mansfield, who brought commercial and estates law out of the Middle Ages, and ends with South Africa Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs, who championed pragmatic social justice. In addition to recounting their early lives, Hutchinson describes their personal and professional shortcomings in a sympathetic tone. VERDICT What sets this book apart from G. Edward White's The American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges is that Hutchinson includes judges from England, South Africa, and Canada. While White's book is more analytical and scholarly, it is also less biographical. For the nonlawyer, Hutchinson's latest is a good introduction to judges who have made a difference across the world.—Harry Charles, St. Louis