By the time this issue comes out, it will be more like Easter reading recommendations than Christmas ones. But as is now our custom, I list 10 of the books I read during the last year which stood out and which I do not hesitate to recommend to our readers. The law books – six in all – are actually all relatively recent. Sebald’s essay and the novels span a century, a pick of some of the best I happened to read during the year. The 10 books are listed in no particular order. Enjoy!
Michaela Hailbronner, Traditions and Transformations: The Rise of German Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press, 2015)
A mature and very readable book (not always the case with German scholarship) by a young scholar, constituting a nice balance between synthesis and analysis of ‘German Constitutionalism’, with a focus on the German Constitutional Court. Foreshadowed by her 2014 article in I•CON the book is laudably ambitious, providing a history and historiography of court, state, society and the constitutional order. Some of the terrain was covered some years ago by Ulrich Haltern’s striking doctoral dissertation, but the treatment is fresh and her fertile concept of ‘value formalism’ – a kind of Hegelian synthesis of, say, Mautner’s formalism to values analysis of the Israeli Supreme Court – captures a mood noticeable in other jurisdictions. Hailbronner swims confidently in constitutional (and political) theory, and is both contextual and comparative. The book is Hegelian in another sense – formally beautiful in the construct it sets up and, yes, idealistic in its values. It is German ‘legal science’ in the best sense of the word, which also helps explain the worldwide impact that the German Constitutional Court and its jurisprudence have had, an impact greater than any other such court in continental Europe. That might be its weakness too: the construct a bit too tidy for my taste, the values a bit too much of a legal Heile Welt – but such does not detract from a formidable achievement.
Vittoria Barsotti, Paolo Carozza, Marta Cartabia and Andrea Simoncini, Italian Constitutional Justice in Global Context (Oxford University Press, 2015)
This is a very different book – a combination in the best sense of a law book and a book about the law – learned and erudite in its descriptive parts, insightful in its analytical part. It is important because so many out there will simply be unaware of Italian constitutionalism, its history, institutions and not least its jurisprudence. I might say, tongue in cheek, that if you read it coupled with Sabino Cassese’s Diary which I recommend below, you will not need to read much more.
Sabino Cassese, Dentro La Corte. Diario di un giudice costituzionale (Il Mulino, 2015) Read the rest of this entry…