LAW & CRIME

Litigation Nation: A Cultural History of Lawsuits in America

Rowman & Littlefield. Sept. 2019. 224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538116579. $35. LAW
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The United States has more civil litigation than any other nation in the Western world. This book attempts to make sense of this phenomenon by examining the issue from colonial to contemporary times. Hoffer (history, Univ. of Georgia; A Nation of Laws; The Search for Justice) is well qualified to tackle this difficult topic. Chapters cover defamation, real estate buying/selling, slavery, labor, stock swindles (especially in railroading), divorce, civil rights, and product liability/mass tort litigation. In addition, the author traces wounded honor and personal dignity as values that have evolved over the centuries, most recently with the rise of “identity politics.” As an alternative to violence, Hoffer concludes, litigation is a useful tool.
VERDICT Hoffer’s study covers a vast topic in a clear and concise manner that will appeal to those interested in American law, especially historians and legal scholars.

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