English law (which is partly written and partly custom) until 1948 granted peers a special privilege. Instead of a trial in court, they could and often did get a trial before the House of Lords. The well known biographer and historian has selected nine such cases and, in a style that general readers will respond to, explores some odd personalities and some legal implications of their ordeals. In his introduction, the author states that he has chosen these cases from among the many because the principal characters in each fascinated him. For instance, there is Lord Mohun, a 17th century blade who was tried for his life because he witnessed a murder committed by a friend; stupidly, the young man did the same thing a few years later and was himself finally killed in a duel. In 1760, the Earl of Ferrers committed what must be one of the most protracted killings ever recorded. Queen Caroline was tried and acquitted of adultery in 1820 and Bertrand Russell was tried for bigamy in 1901. The most interesting essay deals with trial for felony in 1841 of the Earl of Cardigan, England's ""most hated hero"" whose total, incredibly simpleminded, arrogance landed him before the Lords who, in clearing him, permitted him to become the leader of the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. It's good browsing for trail buffs and easy to enjoy.