THE COLLECTED WORKS OF JUSTICE HOLMES by Oliver Wendell Holmes

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF JUSTICE HOLMES

Vol. I-III: Complete Public Writings and Selected Judicial Opinions of Oliver Wendell Holmes
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Holmes (18411935) wrote some of the Supreme Court decisions most venerated by liberals, particularly those defending free speech, but he was also very much a man of the 19th century. He subscribed to a worldview that accorded with Hobbes and Malthus, and in his embrace of eugenics he so far outstripped his contemporaries that editor Novick (Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1989) refers to some of Holmes's words as ``evil.'' But, Novick adds, ``in the end, I find Holmes better than his ideas.'' There is more than enough material here for readers to make up their own minds about that--so much, in fact, that the question of whether Holmes was a good man or bad becomes, perhaps, the least interesting approach to his life and work. The precise introduction--which offers a short biography, a summary of Holmes's philosophy and jurisprudence, and a critical appraisal of his performance as judge and justice--is a good place to initially get your brain wet. Holmes lived an extraordinarily public and written life, leaving behind a gargantuan paper trail riddled with the inky footprints of his character. Much of the trail in this collection leads to quotidian lawyer work, but there are also paths that reveal a man of great wisdom, and cul de sacs that betray a man of great folly.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-226-34966-7
Page count: 1376pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995




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