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Oliver Wendell Holmes was a stylist of uncommon power and a scholar of unyielding intelligence. He wrote more than than 2,200 judicial opinions, as well as hundreds of reviews, essays, articles, and speeches. His 1881 book The Common Law is considered the most influential work in the history of American law. This edition consists of three volumes of all of Holmes's nonjudicial writings intended for publication or an audience.
Drawing from scattered and inaccessible sources, Novick concludes a project started in 1932, just before Holmes's death, to publish a definitive edition of Holmes's writing. Novick's efforts have produced this fitting memorial: a meticulously researched and edited collection of works covering 76 years, from an essay written as a Harvard sophomore in 1858 to a letter written shortly before his death in 1935.
Volume One includes the youthful writings: undergraduate essays, poems, addresses, his Civil War writings and letters, including obituaries of soldiers who served with him in the 10th Massachusetts Volunteers. Volume One also includes the digests, articles, comments, and book notices Holmes wrote anonymously for the nation's first modern law review, the American Law Review, from 1867 to 1873. Most published here for the first time in more than a century, these writings chart the beginnings of Holmes's attempt to shape a scientific study of law.
Volume Two contains Holmes's landmark essay notes and annotations to Kent's Commentaries on American Law, the leading legal treatise of the age. For the eleventh edition, Holmes added extensive new notes and summaries that brought Kent's pre-Civil War jurisprudence face to face with that of the new Industrial Age; copies of Holmes's edition are rare and badly damaged.
Volume Three includes the complete text of The Common Law, with the text of Lecture XII, the concluding chapter omitted from the book and believed to have been lost, and Holmes's revisions for an unpublished new edition. Framing it all are articles from the American Law Review and the texts of the Lowell Lectures that were intellectual drafts of Holmes's masterwork. Also in this volume are the Speeches (1913), uncollected and unpublished addresses, and other writings.