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the Complete Review

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Richard Posner
at the
complete review:


biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links


Biographical

Name: Richard A. POSNER
Nationality: USA
Born: 11 January 1939

  • Graduated from Yale (A.B., 1959)
  • Graduated from Harvard Law School (LL.B., 1962)
  • Was President of the Harvard Law Review
  • Clerked for Justice William J. Brennan Jr. from 1963-5
  • Appointed judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in 1981; chief judge 1993-2000
  • Teaches at the University of Chicago

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Bibliography

Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review

  • Economic Analysis of Law - non-fiction, 1973 (2nd ed. 1977; 3rd ed. 1986; 4th ed. 1992; 5th ed. 1998)
  • Antitrust Law: An Economic Perspective - non-fiction, 1976 (2nd ed. 2001)
  • The Economics of Contract Law - non-fiction, 1978 (with Anthony T. Kronman)
  • The Economics of Justice - non-fiction, 1981
  • The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform - non-fiction, 1985 (2nd ed. 1996)
  • The Economic Structure of Tort Law - non-fiction, 1987 (with William M. Landes)
  • Law and Literature - non-fiction, 1988 (enlarged and rev. ed., 1998)
  • The Problems of Jurisprudence - non-fiction, 1990
  • Cardozo: A Study in Reputation - non-fiction, 1990
  • Sex and Reason - non-fiction, 1992
  • Private Choices and Public Health: The AIDS Epidemic in an Economic Perspective - non-fiction, 1993 (with Tomas J. Philipson)
  • Overcoming Law - non-fiction, 1995
  • Aging and Old Age - non-fiction, 1995
  • A Guide to America's Sex Laws - self-help, 1996 (with Katharine Silbaugh)
  • The Federal Courts: Challenge and Reform - non-fiction, 1996 (2nd ed. of The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform)
  • Law and Legal Theory in England and America - non-fiction, 1996
  • The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory - non-fiction, 1999
  • An Affair of State - non-fiction, 1999
  • Frontiers of Legal Theory - non-fiction, 2001
  • The Economic Structure of the Law: The Collected Economic Essays of Richard A. Posner - non-fiction, 2001 (3 vols., ed. Francesco Parisi)
  • Public Intellectuals - non-fiction, 2001
  • Antitrust Law - non-fiction, 2001 (2nd ed. of Antitrust Law: An Economic Perspective)
  • Breaking the Deadlock - non-fiction, 2001
  • Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy - non-fiction, 2003
  • Catastrophe - non-fiction, 2004
  • Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform - non-fiction, 2006
  • Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency - non-fiction, 2006
  • The Little Book of Plagiarism - non-fiction, 2007
  • How Judges Think - non-fiction, 2008
  • A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression - non-fiction, 2009
  • The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy - non-fiction, 2010
  • Reflections on Judging - non-fiction, 2013

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.
See also this bibliography

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Quotes

What others have to
say about
Richard Posner:

  • "Richard Posner is the wonder of the legal world. (...) He has produced books on a variety of legal subjects in numbers that would be amazing even if he had no other responsibilities. To judge from the copious footnotes in all his books, he is a voracious speed-reader as well." - Ronald Dworkin, The New York Review of Books (9/3/2000)

  • "Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is an intellectual force to be reckoned with. The author, seemingly, of more books written while in active judicial service than many judges are of opinions, he can lay claim to the title of pre-eminent judicial theorist of our time." - Leonard H. Becker, The Nation (12/11/2001)

  • "Posner has a voracious intellectual curiosity and a discipline for work rivaled by almost nobody in the United States." - Alan Wolfe, The New Republic (31/12/2001)

  • "(H)e, for one, apparently is able, in the book-publishing equivalent of hours, to toss off the definitive account of this or that knotty politico-legal crisis, even as he cranks out longer books surveying entire disciplines. (...) He writes faster than you can read." - Adam Liptak, The New York Observer (7/1/2002)

  • "Posner is, despite it all, a marvel. He is hyperactive like Harold Bloom, audacious like Christopher Hitchens and, a practical man of the world like Alan Greenspan. About how many Americans can that be said ? So he deserves attention no matter how infuriating he can be. Moreover, he charges gaily into the fray, voraciously aware of his own superiority." - David Brooks, The New York Times Book Review (13/1/2002)

  • "Richard Posner is a polymath, a one-man think tank, the grown-up version of the kid who always sat in the front row and knew the answer to the teacher's questions. Officially, he is a federal judge, but that's just his day job. What he really aspires to be, as his hyperactive career at the University of Chicago Law School suggests, is king of the public intellectuals." - Gary Rosen, Wall Street Journal (15/1/2002)

  • "Posner's most significant contribution has been in law and economics, the influential legal movement he practically created. (...) Looking at the world through a strictly economic lens, he writes with a refreshing, parsimonious intensity. He also, occasionally, produces outrageous conclusions, such as his contention in a 1999 article in the literary journal Raritan that the rule of law is an accidental and readily dispensable element of our legal ideology, and his argument in favor of buying and selling babies on the free market in lieu of government-regulated adoption. Add his advocacy of legal marijuana and LSD, and it is clear that Posner -- despite his obvious brilliance -- will never sit on the U.S. Supreme Court." - Robert S. Boynton, The Washington Post (20/1/2002)

  • "Posner was formerly a legal academic, but is now a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, and one of the most respected jurists in the nation. However, this is not enough for him, and since ascending to the bench, he has achieved literary celebrity through a stream of fluidly written, informative and intellectually undemanding books on law, politics and society." - Thomas Nagel, Times Literary Supplement (25/1/2002)

  • "Posner has not only the lively intelligence one expects of a public intellectual, but also extraordinary energy and resourcefulness, a talent for "maximizing," as he would say, his assets. And maximizing, as well, his public impact, because he has an uncommon taste and talent for controversy and is even less fettered than most by reticence or modesty." - Gertrude Himmelfarb, Commentary (2/2002)

  • "A felicitous writer with a marvelously caustic wit, Posner can be a pleasure to read." - Eric Alterman, The Nation (28/1/2002)

  • "He is also a prominent though (to my mind) injudicious circuit judge in the US court of appeals. But the only appeal he heeds is from the hard, bright, unintellectual lights of instrumental reason." - Fred Inglis The Independent (27/2/2002)

  • "Mr Posner is not only America's most prolific writer on legal subjects, he is also one of the strangest. He has solid intellectual achievements to his credit (.....) And yet he can be, well, loony. (...) (H)e is not much of a legal theorist, and he might have made a better legislator, academic or even political campaigner than a judge." - The Economist (21/6/2003)

  • "Richard A. Posner is an extraordinary person. If he did not exist, it would be hard to believe that he could. (...) He writes with a flair that puts most journalists to shame and a depth of knowledge that puts most professors to shame." - Alan Ryan, The New York Times Book Review (14/9/2003)

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Pros and Cons
of the author's work:

    Pros:
  • Wide-ranging interests
  • Keen mind
  • Doesn't fit neatly on either side of left/right divide -- but able to annoy both sides
  • Argues and explains well

    Cons:
  • "Law & economics" approach applied everywhere
  • Some of the books feel a bit rushed
  • Hasn't written any fiction !

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the complete review's Opinion

     Lawyers are dismayingly omnipresent in the United States: not only in sheer numbers, but specifically in political offices and as commentators in the media. The law is often at issue in contemporary America (O.J., Monica Lewinsky, Microsoft, Enron, the 2000 election, to name only some recent high/lowlights), and so one hears from an endless number of lawyers. A J.D. (or, for the older folk, an LL.B.) doesn't automatically disqualify one from speaking and acting sensibly (despite too-frequent demonstrations suggesting the contrary), and there have been any number of lawyers -- in that capacity, or as teachers, politicians, businessmen, or judges -- that have done so; Posner must certainly be counted among them.
     Few lawyers are as visible and influential as Richard Posner. As judge, on the Court of Appeals, Seventh District, he has been one of the most influential judges outside the Supreme Court. A scholar, he has written several leading texts and been one of the primary exponents of the "law-and-economics" approach to ... apparently everything. Recently, he was much in the news in his role as mediator in the Microsoft-antitrust case (a rare -- and apparently complete -- failure on his part).
     Posner writes extensively and intensively, churning out book after book. Most are on law-related issues, but his subjects often are of interest to the non-specialist as well, with many of his books certainly also aimed at a broader audience. Sex and Reason, Aging and Old Age, Public Intellectuals, as well as two of his timely current-events titles -- on the Monica Lewinsky-scandal (An Affair of State) and the 2000 U.S. presidential election (Breaking the Deadlock) -- all address issues and occurrences that are significant to the non-specialist.
     At the very least, Posner's spin on things is always of interest. His books are, in the best sense, learned: well-documented, compellingly (if not always convincingly) argued, far reaching, generally fairly acknowledging and addressing (and then demolishing) alternative viewpoints and opinions.
     Posner's philosophy has often been controversial, with many finding his relentless economic (in the broadest sense) focus chilling. But his arguments are arguments worth making, and Posner always does well in providing both the facts and the competing interpretations, making for significant contributions to whatever the subject at hand is.
     Posner always presents his case clearly: legal arguments and explanations are neatly unfolded (as in the best judicial opinions), and only the occasional recourse to statistical analysis might defeat the untrained reader. Posner writes well and clearly -- and often engagingly. Some of his subject matter may be pretty dry stuff, but Posner's style helps hold the reader's attention and interest.
     His arguments and propositions can infuriate -- but then that's part of the fun.
     A leading contemporary thinker, Richard Posner's work is always worth reading.

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Links

Richard Posner: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit: Richard Posner's books at the complete review: See also:
  • Books on Legal subjects at the complete review
  • Index of other Author Pages at the complete review

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