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The Common Law was first published in 1881. In 1889, Frederick William Maitland, the greatest historian of English law, said that "for a long time to come it will leave its mark wide and deep on all the best thoughts of Americans and Englishmen about the history of their common law". The Common Law, in other words, had achieved the status of a classic.
As a classic, it needs little introduction. It is closely-reasoned and analytic in its a pp roach to those aspects of English legal history and problems of jurisprudence which are its subjects. And while it is true to say that the passage of time has eroded some of Holmes's interpretations, The Common Law - read as a significant chapter in the history of American ideas - remains without doubt of engrossing interest and considerable value.
Amongst the topics covered by Holmes are: early forms of liability, the criminal law, the theory of torts, trespass and negligence, fraud, malice and intent, possession, contracts, and successions. This definitive text was edited and introduced by the late Mark De Wolfe Howe.