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British Criminal and Legal History Top Ten Booklist
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21:06, 26 July 2016
It's not surprising that many people find the study of legal history boring. As with any historical work, a poor storyteller who relies solely on dates, statistics and timelines won't engage the reader. On the other hand, a deft historian can look at the most bare bones court record or account and seemingly bring the trial to life. These books have been chosen because of their fantastic narration, informative overviews, and consideration of new historical themes within the field. For example, Shani D’Cruz and Louise Jackson add to our understanding of women's experiences before the law. And Richard Ward brings our awareness to how media can shape popular attitudes concerning crime.
If you're even remotely familiar with the field of British criminal and legal history, no doubt you've seen John Beattie’s Crime and the Courts in England, 1660-1800 which is why it's not on this list. This is considered to be the go-to reference for scholars, as it touches upon a wide range of crimes and walks the reader through court proceedings. It's a hefty work that attempts to leave nothing out. That being said, it's a good source to consult before moving on to more detailed analysis of the specific topic you're interested in. That's where our top ten booklist may be helpful. While several of these books provide a general overview of the field that may be useful to those just beginning to study, other works dig deeper into very specific historical themes or questions.
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