• The Rule of Laws

  • A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World
  • By: Fernanda Pirie
  • Narrated by: Ana Clements
  • Length: 16 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations.

Rulers throughout history have used laws to impose order. But laws were not simply instruments of power and social control. They also offered ordinary people a way to express their diverse visions for a better world.  

In The Rule of Laws, Oxford scholar Fernanda Pirie traces the rise and fall of the sophisticated legal systems underpinning ancient empires and religious traditions, while also showing how common people - tribal assemblies, merchants, farmers - called on laws to define their communities, regulate trade, and build civilizations. Although legal principles originating in Western Europe now seem to dominate the globe, the variety of the world’s laws has long been almost as great as the variety of its societies. What truly unites human beings, Pirie argues, is our very faith that laws can produce justice, combat oppression, and create order from chaos.

©2021 Fernanda Pirie (P)2021 Basic Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"The Rule of Laws is a fascinating, comprehensive study that forces us to think again about what law is, and why it matters. Far from being a dry set of rules, Fernanda Pirie argues, law is nothing less than a way of creating order and civilization. For those who want to understand why human society has emerged as it has, this is essential reading.” (Rana Mitter, University of Oxford)

"The Rule of Laws offers a pathbreaking and stimulating account of how societies across different regions and epochs drew upon secular, sacred, and scholarly traditions to create laws that organized the lives of their citizens. Pirie leads readers across five millennia to show the diverse and sophisticated legal systems developed in states across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas before explaining how the European-derived legal structures of our time achieved a rather unlikely and historically anomalous global dominance. This expansive narrative challenges what we think we know about legal history and the assumptions we make about law’s future.” (Edward J. Watts, author of Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny)

What listeners say about The Rule of Laws

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great idea, not sure if the best excecution

Summary:
-The book focuses on describing the history of the different legal systems that have existed and compares them: from Mesopotamia, China and India to the laws of international organizations that govern today.
-The book is divided into three parts or periods of time
-The origin of the first attempts to codify systems of laws and the differences between them
-A comparison between slightly more systematized codes after the fall of Rome
-Finally the product of European expansion, the integration of other regional systems to this, the decentralization of power and the current legal systems


What I liked:
-A focus beyond just Europe (I love to understand other possible realities beyond the one in which I was educated)
-The number and diversity of examples (from Tibet to Iceland)
-The relationship of laws with other systems (religion, politics, economy and finance)

What I didn't like:
-Too descriptive, could benefit from a comparative analysis or the conclusions of the big picture, the famous so what's
-Something repetitive and in some cases too specific for a text that summarizes the entire history of a field of knowledge
-There is a lack of a systematic description of the different components of the law

Recommendation:
-Honestly...hardly enough to recommend it
-Within its benefits, the book leaves much to be desired, sometimes it can be boring and it feels somewhat textbookish
-I recommend it to those who have an intermediate level of world history, otherwise the amount of detail you get can be overwhelming. Like drinking water from a fire hose.
-I would recommend it because apart from legal history you learn a lot about religion, economics and history in general,.. that's always a win

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Perfect introduction with enough depth

This was my first book on the issue, I am no expert, but I found it to be perfectly right in introducing the main historical schools and providing enough details on each. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of laws.