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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

Book of the Month

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Goode on Commercial Law

Edited by: Ewan McKendrick
Price: £170.00

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Garrow's Law: The BBC Drama Revisited

ISBN13: 9781904380900
Published: November 2012
Publisher: Waterside Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback
Price: £11.99

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Takes the lid off the prime-time TV series A must for lawyers and other viewers. For any of the five million people who saw the prime-time BBC series Garrow's Law this is an absorbing book. It is written by expert commentator John Hostettler who has studied Garrow extensively.

The book uses the true facts on which the programme was based to compare drama and reality. In Part I he looks at the world in which the real life Garrow worked, marking out the main aspects of crime and punishment, which at the time operated primarily to deal with a troublesome but deprived and under-privileged strata of society: these unfortunates fed the conveyor belt to the courts, prisons and gallows. It was a world of few rights, effortless conviction, condemnation, draconian punishments and utter prejudice.

This is the backdrop against which TV audiences were, in 2010, introduced to the story of the feisty individual who set out to change the status quo. Juxtaposition of judicial order, procedural chaos and impudence in the face of authority fired the imagination of viewers as Garrow sought ever more ingenious ways of avoiding legal rules, such as those which prevented him from speaking directly to the jury, visiting a client in prison, or knowing the evidence in advance.

In Part II, the author takes the reader through the cases portrayed in the TV series explaining their true origins and the jig-saw of facts, roles or events with which the scriptwriters wrestled in the interests of dramatic impact. The book explains the true facts underpinning the drama. He also explains how, in reality, the law had its own fictions - such as "pious perjury" - to prevent accused people from being completely subjugated by the legal system. Garrow's Law is a minor masterpiece in which the author brings his immense knowledge of his subject to bear in a highly readable and entertaining work that will be of interest to lawyers and general public alike.