The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Book recommendations from me and my colleagues


One University of Chicago tradition I like is that of asking the law school faculty whether they've read any good books lately. The answers usually include both fiction and non-fiction, and help me both find good books and learn about my colleagues. My two selections are listed below:

Daniel Abraham, The Dagger and the Coin series.

This is a series of fantasy novels that plays with many of the classic tropes-the reluctant warrior, long-lost deities and dragons, etc.-but it has a sort of law-and-economics twist. The principal/agent problems in governing a kingdom are quickly made obvious and are the source of key plot twists. And it also turns out that the world's monetary system and its bankers are at least as important as the warriors (hence the "and the Coin" in the title). The place to start is with the first book, The Dragon's Path; I recently finished the fourth, The Widow's House. The whole series is excellent.

John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport, Originalism and the Good Constitution.

This is the latest important book on originalism in theory and practice. McGinnis and Rappaport introduce at least three important claims: First, that originalism is normatively valuable because of its connection to the supermajoritarian process used to enact and amend the Constitution. Second, that originalists should use the "original methods" of legal interpretation. And third, that we should imagine a culture of originalism, in which people took the constitutional amendment process seriously, rather than relying on judges to update the Constitution. In my view, the second and third claims are more powerfully demonstrated than the first, but it is a strength of their book that one can engage separately with each claim.

Here's the whole set.