The uses and abuses of law in prerevolutionary Massachusetts is the subject of this scholarly, yet eminently readable book. The manipulation of law and legal process by both the colonists and the Crown was, of course, a response to political conditions. A major strength of Professor Reid's analysis is the exposition of how political policies can determine the parameters of peaceful opposition. He accomplishes this by comparing the colonial experience in America with the success of British imperial law in eighteenth-century Ireland. The book is far more than a contribution to comparative legal historiography however; it presents a conception of law which transcends, and therefore challenges the concept of law as simply that which is "set by political superiors to political inferiors."

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