Book Review– The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises

thumbnail image of the cover of The Cold WarIn the recent Academy Award-nominated movie, Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays real-life James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer who was appointed by the Brooklyn Bar Association to defend an accused Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel. In the movie, as in the actual historical event, Donovan successfully argues Abel’s case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Abel’s initial conviction. Also in the movie, again as in real-life, that was not the end of Donovan and Abel’s story, and Donovan ended up facilitating a prisoner exchange between the CIA and Soviet authorities in Berlin, Abel for U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The movie thrillingly recounts these events, which happened over a 3 year period from 1957-1960 during the Cold War. Arthur T. Downey’s book, The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises, not only tells the story just as compellingly, but also places it in the larger context of 40-year long Cold War.

The purpose of Downey’s book is not to retell all the stories of the cold war, but to highlight the role that lawyers played in the conflict. The book is structured not to tell story after story but to place the stories in within thematic contexts: international law, subversives and spies, presidential war powers, the economic cold war. Many events that happened during that time period are not covered in the book– the Pentagon papers and the Viet Nam War, for example. Lawyers were certainly involved, but those topics are too unwieldy, are well-covered elsewhere, and draw from the focus of the book. This book seems to highlight those events where lawyers weren’t just present, but were front and center.

Downey, a lawyer, teacher, diplomat, and government official, writes with a historian’s precision– the 162 pages of text are supported by 495 footnotes– and a writer’s use of language. The book is readable and thrilling, but at the same time adds context, details, and commentary that a movie never could. Two appendices add valuable insight to the topic: Appendix I is a list of Cold War events, starting with the Yalta Conference in 1945 and ending with the establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and the Russian Federation in 1991; Appendix II contains short biographical sketches of some of the lawyers who significantly influenced Cold War events.

Arthur T Downey, The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises (ABA Publishing 2016).


For the Lawyer Who Has Everything: A Gift List for Book-Loving Lawyers

Photo of Christmas tree made of library booksFor Christmas this year, all three of my nephews are getting books. Lots of books. (It’s okay, they are all under 2 years old and won’t be reading this.) This is what happens when your aunt is a librarian– you get books. My nephews are getting those age-appropriate, big, fat cardboard books with cute pictures, but perhaps you have a book-loving lawyer on your holiday gift list. The following is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of lawyer-appropriate suggestions.


Foodie Lawyers

The Little Book of Foodie LawThumbnail image of The Little Book of Foodie Law. Consider pairing this one with the Little Book of BBQ Law or the Little Book of Coffee Law.



  • LegalEats: A Lawyer’s Lite Cookbook. Contains recipes such as Legal Lasagna, Libelously Light Strawberry Cheesecake and Prosecutor’s Pizza. Also contains lawyer cartoons and amusing quotations.

Supreme Court Bios

There is no shortage of biographies of United States Supreme Court Justices. Here are a few recent bestsellers.

Thumbnail image of Notorious RGBNotorious RGB: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Pair this book with a Notorious RGB tshirt, cell-phone case, or coffee mug.



Coffee Table Books

Thumbnail image of The Law BookThe Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law. “Offering authoritative context to ancient documents as well as today’s hot-button issues, The Law Book presents a comprehensive look at the rules by which we live our lives. It covers such diverse topics as the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments, the Trial of Socrates, the Bill of Rights, women’s suffrage, the insanity defense, and more.”

  • Magna Carta: Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015. 2015 is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, one of the most important historical legal documents. In celebration of the anniversary, this book contains the reflections of British and American legal scholars, all illustrated with photos and historical illustrations.
  • Courthouses of America. This book spotlights some of America’s most beautiful courthouses. Along with photographs, it contains local lore about the courthouses, stories of famous trials, and architectural history. Also available: fine art prints, calendars, and planners.

Book Collections

ABA Little Book Series.Thumbnail image of Little Book of Cowboy Law All 19 books in the ABA’s “Little Book” series sold together. Includes the Little Book of Foodie Law, Little Book of BBQ Law, and the Little Book of Coffee Law suggested above as well as the Little Book of Cowboy Law, the Little Book of Basketball Law, and the Little Book of Elvis Law.


Consider also some banned book accessories such as a banned books tote bag to go with the collection. (To learn more about banned books, see our blog post about Banned Books Week 2013).

Just for Fun

thumbnail of cover of New Yorker Book of Lawyer CartoonsThe New Yorker Book of Lawyer Cartoons. For lawyers and lovers of New Yorker cartoons alike. By the way, if I’m the lawyer on your gift-list, I see they also have The New Yorker Book of Dog Cartoons. I want that.


  • US Lawyer Presidents Coloring & Activity Book. Adult coloring books are all the rage. And truthfully, what lawyer couldn’t use a little stress relief. The book is really meant for kids, but the ABA suggests that “law firms will want to purchase to book in bulk for their employees.”
  • Stump Your Lawyer! A Quiz to Challenge the Legal Mind. Comic relief with a twist. “Short case histories, definitions, multiple-choice quizzes, and other formats mock the bar exam approach and probe the reader’s knowledge of obscure statutes, baffling decisions, bizarre legal concepts, and antiquated jargon.”
  • Law of Superheroes. We like this one so much, we’ve reviewed it twice!
  • Harry Potter & the Law. This one was first recommended to me by a student and is featured on our Great Summer Reads 2015 book list. This book is a scholarly discussion of law and legal institutions as portrayed in the Harry Potter series but it is appropriate for lawyers, students, and anyone interested in both Harry Potter and the law.

The Jameson Law Library Blog will be on break until classes start again at the end of January.

Happy Holidays!

New Books Libguide

Our new library guide, New Books at The Jameson Law Library provides a new and improved way to present new books, book review resources, and student, staff, and faculty reading recommendations.

This Libguide is so new that there are hardly any books in it yet! I’ve added a few new titles and will add a page for recommended books just as soon as I receive some recommendations.

Consider this announcement a solicitation for recommended titles. You don’t have to review a book for me to include it. Just send me the title, author, and a sentence or two about your response to the book and I’ll do the rest. A recommendation can be positive or negative. Nearly any topic or subject will be covered.

Send your recommendations to:

And check out the New Books at the Jameson Law Library libguide at

There will also be a link to the new books lib guide on the Jameson Law Library website.

If It’s Not Broken…

The new ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, 5th edition, is a significant rewrite of ALWD citation rules. The new ALWD Guide retains ALWD’s  signature style with clear and plentiful examples, excellent visual cues, and plenty of white space. The new manual keeps some of ALWD’s best features: the fast formats and snapshots. ALWD’s style and features mean the ALWD Guide mean is still the best manual for teaching legal citation.

The “new” citation rules aren’t new at all–  ALWD rules now conform to Bluebook rules. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, written by the editors of the Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review and Yale Law Journal, is now in its 19th edition, making The Bluebook a standard in legal citation since 1926. The Bluebook had little competition until 2000 when the ALWD Citation Manual emerged and many law schools adopted it to teach citation. Although some of the finer points of citation rules did differ from Bluebook rules, the general formats were very similar. The major distinction between the two systems was that while The Bluebook had two distinct citation formats– one for legal documents and one for academic writing– the ALWD Manual had only one.

Without any competition for 75 years, The Bluebook became the standard and many attorneys believe they have to use The Bluebook even though most courts do not have rules requiring any specific citation manual. Some law schools thought teaching the ALWD Citation Manual put students at a disadvantage since the rules they learned were different than the ones they were told they had to use in practice and they didn’t learn The Bluebook‘s separate system for law review footnotes at all. The new ALWD Guide to Legal Citations eliminates that concern and there may be some efficiencies there that recommend ALWD’s “new” rules. The reality, however, is that students don’t learn all the rules in any citation manual. What they do learn is how to use a citation manual, a skill that is transferable to any citation manual.

But although the new ALWD Guide to Legal Citations may be better than The Bluebook to teach citation, it is no longer a better way to do citation. Just because rules are standard does not mean they are logical. Take, for example, the rule about citing to periodicals that are not listed in the appendix of legal periodicals. The previous ALWD rule was that you formed the abbreviation for the periodical name by abbreviating words in a list of standard ALWD abbreviations. The new rule is that you search the appendix of legal periodicals “for abbreviations for individual words from the periodical’s name. For geographic terms, use abbreviations from Appendix 3(B). Otherwise, spell out the word. Do not use an abbreviation from another appendix, as it may be a word that should not be abbreviated in a periodical name, or it may be abbreviated differently.” Rule 21.2(e). The rule regarding the different citations for consecutively paginated and non-consecutively paginated periodicals is similarly less-than-streamlined. Under the old ALWD rule, for non-consecutively paginated journal you simply put the month or season of the issue in the date parenthetical. Under the new ALWD rule that conforms with The Bluebook, the formats are completely different even though the only difference in the actual publications is whether each issue begins on page 1 or not.

Still, the oddities in individual rules are easy enough to get past– even if a rule does not make sense, you can learn and follow it. The larger problem is a philosophical one: requiring legal practitioners– lawyers and judges– to use a separate system of citation when they want to write for law reviews reflects a bias toward publishing articles by academics. Lawyers and judges have to dig back into the citation manual to cite sources that they cite every day using a different set of rules. Of course, they can do this, but what is the good reason they should have to, besides tradition? What is the purpose of a separate set of rules for academic citation other than to discriminate (meant in non-pejorative sense of the word) between legal documents and academic documents? Especially since the differences in the formats are usually in typeface– they are not substantive differences that convey meaning.

The legal academy is rapidly modernizing legal education. Law schools are developing and adopting practice-based curricula that teach students not just the substance of law but also the practice of law. Law schools are hiring faculty that have previous practice experience. The new ALWD Guide to Legal  Citation– and The Bluebook its rules are based on– are failing to support practical legal education and failing to encourage legal practitioners to engage in the published legal discourse.

I will happily continue to use the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation to teach citation because I believe it is a superior teaching tool. My frustration is that I now have to go back to teaching what I believe are outdated rules. I think the previous edition of ALWD had the formula right.

Book Review: The Law of Superheroes

superheroThe Law of Superheroes
by James Daily and Ryan Davidson*

Other than a few issues of Archie Comics when I was a kid, I have never been a reader of comic books, but the idea of this book intrigued me and I thoroughly enjoyed the book itself.  Most of us have enough pop culture knowledge to recognize Batman and Superman and some of the most villainous villains and even know a bit about their alter-egos and some of the story lines.  That is enough to get into this book and find it exceedingly interesting.  The authors are self-described “lawyers and comic book nerds” and this book grew out of their blog, Law and the Multiverse.  In an attempt to make law more interesting, both the blog and the book introduce real world legal principles by applying them to the facts and situations found in comic books.

In addition to appealing to both comic book fans and novices, this book is also written for both legal experts and those without legal training.  The authors have a knack for discussing legal concepts in a way that is neither dumbed-down nor obtuse.  Lawyers can have fun thinking about questions like how the Second Amendment applies to superpowers, whether allowing superheroes to testify in costume violates the confrontation clause (or whether requiring them to remove their masks violates their privacy rights), whether mutants are a protected class and how the ADA applies, and what is the best business organization for the Justice League.  For non-lawyers, the authors explain a plethora of legal concepts briefly before demonstrating how those legal concepts would apply in the worlds of various comic books.  Contracts aren’t so hard to understand when you apply the concepts in contract law to a contract between Batman and Penguin’s thugs to help find the survivors of an earthquake in Gotham City.

The table of contents reads a little like a law school transcript, with chapters covering constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, criminal procedure, tort law and insurance, contracts, business law, administrative law, intellectual property, travel and immigration and international law.  The authors explore an impressive list of legal issues.  Even just reading the headings raises interesting questions: citizenship and parallel universes, immortality and compound interest, superhero corporations and liability, hearsay and telepathy, supervillain sentencing and the Eighth Amendment, anti-mutant hate crimes, mutants and civil rights, psychic powers and the Fifth Amendment.

The book certainly provides a new look at law, but for those who don’t read comic books, it also provides an look at the government and legal systems in comic books, which it seems are detailed and sophisticated, with government agencies, courts and laws.  The DC Universe even has its own version of the Twelfth Amendment.

And the authors even have something for legal researchers — the discussions are carefully footnoted with citations to cases, statutes, constitutional provisions and law review articles in flawless Bluebook format.  The comic books themselves are even cited in proper Bluebook format, which, for a citation geek like me, is just another example of how well this book blends law and comic books.

*James Daily & Ryan Davidson, The Law of Superheroes (Gotham Books 2012).

Book Review: Odds and Ends

A lot of books go across my desk.  Here are a few that I spent a little more time with.

The Little Book of Cowboy Law by Cecil Kuhne
(KF1730 .K84 2012)

Even if you have never worn a pair of spurs, the sight of a lone cowboy galloping across the ragged range at sunset, dust flying in his wake, is an extremely evocative one.  Cowboy culture developed during the United States’ westward expansion as a unique and old-fashioned blend of individualism, personal integrity, and strong work ethic.  And even in this modern-day world of pickup trucks equipped with cell phones, GPS, and satellite radio, the traditions and mores remain largely intact.

But even with the freedom and relative lawlessness we associate with them, the cowboy–like the rest of society–was never far from the courthouse, and the book you have before you contains some fascinating legal disputes that have made their way to the bench.  Because of the diversity and complexity of this litigation, these cases have been divided into five parts:

1. The Cowboy Trade
2. Rodeo World
3. Matters of Tort
4. Criminal Concerns
5. Intellectual Property

This collection is a captivating look at the subset of American jurisprudence that illustrates the unique character of cowboy culture.  It also confirms the old Wild West adage that there are really only two kinds of people in the world–those who are cowboys, and those who want to be cowboys.  Check this book out from the law library or purchase a copy for yourself from the American Bar Association web store.

Serial Murderers and Their Victims by Eric W Hickey
(HV6529 .H53 2013)

This book provides an in-depth, scholarly, and broad-based examination of serial murderers and their victims.  Featuring coverage supported by extensive data and research, the book profiles some of the most prominent murderers of our time, addressing the highest-profile serial killer type–the sexual predator–as well as a wide variety of other types (male, female, team, healthcare, and serial killers from outside the U.S.).  Author Eric Hickey examines the lives of over 400 serial murderers, analyzing the cultural, historical, and religious factors that influence our myths and stereotypes of these individuals.  He describes the biological, psychological, and sociological reasons for serial murder and discusses profiling and other law enforcement issues related to the apprehension and disposition of serial killers.  A copy is available to check out from the law library or buy the book from either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Legal Decisions That Shaped Modern Baseball by Patrick K. Thornton
(KF3989.A52 T46 2012)

This work takes a look at the cases that have had a significant influence on the game of baseball, such as Flood v. Kuhn and Garvey v. MLB, which either made it to the U.S. Supreme Court or brought up major legal issues in baseball.  Also included are cases that explore legal issues in baseball but are not as well known and cases that appear in most sports law books.  For each case, the historical and legal significance of the decision is discussed.  Check out the law library copy or purchase a copy for yourself from McFarland Publishers or get the Kindle version from Amazon.

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives by Shankar Vedatim
(BF315 .V399 2010)

The hidden brain is the voice in our ear when we make the most important decisions in our lives—but we’re never aware of it.  The hidden brain decides whom we fall in love with and whom we hate.  It tells us to vote for the white candidate and convict the dark-skinned defendant, to hire the thin woman but pay her less than the man doing the same job.  It can direct us to safety when disaster strikes and move us to extraordinary acts of altruism.  But it can also be manipulated to turn an ordinary person into a suicide terrorist or a group of bystanders into a mob.

In a series of compulsively readable narratives, Shankar Vedantam journeys through the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral science to uncover the darkest corner of our minds and its decisive impact on the choices we make as individuals and as a society.  Filled with fascinating characters, dramatic storytelling, and cutting-edge science, this is an engrossing exploration of the secrets our brains keep from us—and how they are revealed.  We’d be happy to check out a copy to you at the law library or you can buy your own copy from either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Movie Review: The Trial

Movie Review: The Trial (1962)
Based on the novel by Franz Kafka
Director: Orson Welles
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli, Orson Welles

The Trial opens with Joseph K, an everyman character, waking up at home. Two policemen come to his apartment and tell him he is under arrest, but they cannot tell him what he is charged with. They do not take him into custody. He talks to his neighbors, he goes to work, and everyone seems to know he has committed a crime but all have different ideas about what his crime is. The two policemen later return and take him to a courtroom for his trial. Instead of making everything clear, this begins a bizarre journey through a nightmare world of the law gone mad.


Many critics have called this “a masterpiece… the best film ever made about the law.” Orson Welles said in a BBC interview that it was “…the best film I ever made,” and many Orson Welles aficionados agree. However, just as many critics have called it “boring… an agonizing experience.” People have very strong positive or negative reactions to the film without much middle ground. You either love it or hate it. It’s either a masterpiece or a mess. Reactions to the film probably say more about the individual’s psychology than they do about the film itself. As for me, put me on the side of “disturbing masterpiece.”


This is not an easy film to watch. There is no straightforward plot. Instead, it is a series of surreal, nightmarish sequences blended together. This is the law as allegory. This is the emotional landscape of someone caught up in the process of the law and not understanding what’s happening. This is the law on steroids in the Twilight Zone.

If you’re familiar with Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” then you know what to expect visually. The film is black and white because it allows Welles’ characteristic use of darkness and light as artistic elements. Also present is Welles’ use of camera angles, especially the high angle vistas (such as endless rows of women at typewriters churning out legal documents that nobody will ever read). A unique use of camera angle in this film is the “no angle.” In shots where characters are in a room talking to each other, Welles keeps the camera perfectly flat and about at waist level. This simple trick produces a slight spatial disorientation that helps you feel the confusion and pressure that Joseph K is experiencing.

Ironically, the film itself exists in its own legal limbo. There were money and distribution problems with the film which, along with the quirky nature of the film, kept it from widespread distribution in American theaters. Nobody is even sure of the last time it was publicly shown in an American theater. In addition, Orson Welles speaks the end credits while the screen remains black, so there was never a copyright notice on the film. It lapsed into public domain and for many years the original 35mm print was lost.  Since The Trial is a public domain film, anyone can legally copy it, supply their own packaging, and sell it (same as with public domain books), but most of the videotape and DVD copies available over the years were 16mm transfers of very poor quality. It has always been one of those movies that many people talk about and few have seen. A good quality DVD copy was produced in 2000 from the rediscovered 35mm original. As a public domain film, it can be placed on the web for streaming viewing, but it cannot be made available for downloading on the web because its international copyright status is still disputed under the GATT treaty. I have a DVD copy, one of the good ones made from the 35mm original. I found it in the bargain bin at Hastings for 99 cents. Best 99 cents I ever spent!

Anyway, love it or hate it, you should give it a try because I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it, and I would consider it a must see for students of law, film, and literature.

Here is a link to the full length film on YouTube