Book on the history of the Common Law by historian Norman F. Cantor, published in 1997 by HarperCollins. It is a straightforward, almost textbook read, and quite a comprehensive overview of the subject. Despite the American flag motif on the cover, and the subtitle “Common Law and the Foundations of the American Legal System,” it does not focus on nineteenth and twentieth century legal history, but rather on English legal history up to that point.

The book begins by defining the Common Law, especially in contrast to the Continental ‘Roman Law’ legal system, and introducing the discipline of legal history. Most of the rest of the chapters are an exposition on English legal history from the Anglo-Saxon era through the Norman Conquest, the Middle Ages, and the imperial age. It does well in highlighting the uniqueness of the Common Law system and how it has an existence of its own, being shaped by, and shaping, British history. The last chapter is an afterthought about the spread of Common Law to Commonwealth countries and the United States, and is of little value.

Imagining The Law: Common Law and the Foundations of the American Legal System
Norman F Cantor
New York, 1997, HarperCollins.