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100+ Books About the Law: Famous Cases

Great Legal Cases

Many lawyers read books about great cases in legal history. Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice (1975), which examines the history of court-approved racial segregation and its overturn in the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education, is widely considered one of the best books on American law ever written.

Other excellent works include Peter H. Schuck’s Agent Orange On Trial: Mass Toxic Disasters in the Courts (1987), which explores the world of large class action torts; Gerald M. Stern’s The Buffalo Creek Disaster (1976), which examines a lawsuit to recover damages after a strip mining disaster in West Virginia; Jonathan Haar’s A Civil Action (1995), an outstanding look at how tort cases are actually litigated and settled; Mary Beth Norton’s In the Devil’s Snare (2002), an examination of the Salem Witchcraft trials; Anthony Lewis’s Gideon’s Trumpet (1964), a highly readable account of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court case holding that all persons charged with felonies are entitled to legal counsel, regardless of their ability to pay; Anthony Lewis’s Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment (1991); Edward J. Larson’s Summer for the Gods (1998), about the famed “Scopes Monkey Trial”; Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter (1974), another highly readable book, about the commission and subsequent prosecution of the notorious Manson Family murders; and Telford Taylor’s The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir (1993), dealing with the war crimes trials of senior Nazi leaders at the conclusion of World War II.

Students interested in Oregon’s most famous legal case may want to read Lewis and Clark Law School’s own Ronald B. Lansing’s Juggernaut: The Whitman Massacre Trial (1993). Finally, Steven Brill’s interesting and readable Trial By Jury (1989) contains well-written profiles of sixteen leading civil and criminal cases of the 1980s.