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General theory of law and state by Hans…

General theory of law and state

by Hans Kelsen

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This book is really a unique of example of clear theoretical analysis. The author has an exceptional ability of expressing abstract ideas without resorting to vague and unclear language. Nothing he says seems superfluous, yet nothing relevant is disregarded. I do not really have any background in legal theory, but I could still follow the argument quite well. It's not easy reading by any means, but certainly accessible if you're used to theoretical arguments.

The first part of the book is a general theory of law and the second a juristic theory of the state. The former was good, but I had much more personal interest in the latter. Kelsen's thesis of law being the essence of the state is probably the most interesting general state theory I've come across. Few political theorists seem to incorporate legal theory to their work in a useful way. That's a shame, since much new ground could be gained just by following up on the ideas presented in this book.

All in all this is a fantastic book. In terms of style it sets a great example of how to express new ideas in clear and precise language. I wish all theorists, whatever they theorize, would emulate Kelsen in that regard. The unique and interesting argument he builds makes this one of the best books in 20th century social theory.
  thcson | Aug 23, 2013 |
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