A Life of H. L. A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream

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"Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart was born in Yorkshire in 1907 to second-generation Jewish immigrants. Having won a scholarship to Oxford University, he later became the most famous legal philosopher of the twentieth century." "From 1932-40 Hart practised as a barrister in London. He was pronounced physically unfit for military service in 1940, and recruited by MI5, where he worked until 1945. Whilst at the Bar he continued to study philosophy and at MI5 his interest was further stimulated by his philosopher colleagues in MI6, Stuart Hampshire and Gilbert Ryle. After the war, Hart returned to Oxford to take up a Philosophy Fellowship, and later the Professorship of Jurisprudence." "H.L.A. Hart single-handedly reinvented the philosophy of law and influenced the nation's thinking on the legalization of abortion and homosexuality, and on the abolition of capital punishment." Nicola Lacey draws on Hart's previously unpublished diaries and letters to reveal a complex inner life. Outwardly succesful, Hart was tormented by doubts about his intellectual abilities, his sexual identity, and his capacity to form close relationships. Her biography also sheds light on the origins of his ideas, and assesses his overall contribution. Above all, it chronicles a life which had a depth and impact far greater than many of us realize.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A brilliant mix of tightly reported intimate biography and expert intellectual assessment."—Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"This fascinating and touching biographys secret lies in a unique intergenerational encounter that turned into a rich, albeit posthumous, human relationship between one of the twentieth century's most brilliant legal philosophers and a younger fellow jurisprude who is most probably one of the most perceptive feminist legal theorists of her generation."—German Law Journal

"Nicola Lacey's biography of H.L.A. Hart offers a wonderful sense of what it was like to be an English legal academic in the post-war years, of how work and life might have interacted to produce serious scholarship."—John Henry Schlegel, State University of New York at Buffalo

"The fascinating biography of a complex and brilliant man. Lacey's account vividly recreates the postwar Oxford climate in philosophy and jurisprudence, and paints Hart's life inside and outside the university with sensitivity, wit, and authority."—Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

"And the wonderful thing is Professor Lacey never sells Hart s ideas short, never underestimates the content of his work both as a jurist and as a public intellectual even while she brings his family, his circle of friends, and his personality to life. We end up learning as much about secondary rules in the law as we learn about wartime espionage and the lucid prose of this biography makes them both into an enjoyable and profitable experience."—Jeremy Waldron, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Law and Philosophy, Columbia University

"A fine piece of work and a good read. Lacey has left absolutely no stones unturned in her search for the writing of this life. The end product is as good as a biography of a distinguished as can beand one that provides a fascinating window into the world of the Oxford dons back in what now seems their golden age."
A.W. Brian Simpson, Michigan Law Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199202775
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/22/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicola Lacey is Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Theory at the London School of Economics and Adjunct Professor of Social and Political Theory at the Research School of Social Sciences of the Australian National University. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

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