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Featured Acquisitions - July 2013

 

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Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics and Psychology in Consumer Markets by Oren Bar-Gill
Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2012
K3842 .B37 2012 Balcony

Consumers routinely enter into long-term contracts with providers of goods and services - from credit cards, mortgages, cell phones, insurance, TV, and internet services to household appliances, theatre and sports events, health clubs, magazine subscriptions, transportation, and more. Across these consumer markets certain design features of contracts are recurrent, and puzzling. Why do sellers design contracts to provide short-term benefits and impose long-term costs? Why are low introductory prices so common? Why are the contracts themselves so complex, with numerous fees and interest rates, tariffs and penalties?

Seduction by Contract explains how consumer contracts emerge from the interaction between market forces and consumer psychology. Consumers are short-sighted and optimistic, so sellers compete to offer short-term benefits, while imposing long-term costs. Consumers are imperfectly rational, so sellers hide the true costs of products and services in complex contracts. Consumers are seduced by contracts that increase perceived benefits, without actually providing more benefits, and decrease perceived costs, without actually reducing the costs that consumers ultimately bear. Competition does not help this behavioural market failure. It may even exacerbate it. Sellers, operating in a competitive market, have no choice but to align contract design with the psychology of consumers. A high-road seller who offers what she knows to be the best contract will lose business to the low-road seller who offers what the consumer mistakenly believes to be the best contract. Put bluntly, competition forces sellers to exploit the biases and misperceptions of their customers.

Seduction by Contract argues that better legal policy can help consumers and enhance market efficiency. Disclosure mandates provide a promising avenue for regulatory intervention. Simple, aggregate disclosures can help consumers make better choices. Comprehensive disclosures can facilitate the work of intermediaries, enabling them to better advise consumers. Effective disclosure would expose the seductive nature of consumer contracts and, as a result, reduce sellers' incentives to write inefficient contracts. Developing its explanation through a general framework and detailed case studies of three major consumer markets (credit cards, mortgages, and cell phones), Seduction by Contract is an accessible introduction to the law and economics of consumer contracts, and a powerful critique of current regulatory policy.


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Corporate Governance in the Shadow of the State by Marc T Moore
Oxford; Portland, Oregon: Hart, 2013
KD2088 .M66 2013 Basement

This book provides a fundamental re-conceptualization of the main aspects of corporate governance law and regulation in the UK, with the aim of highlighting the significant and integral role of the political State in the corporate rule-making process. It demonstrates that the key laws and regulations pertaining to corporate governance in the UK are motivated, less by the private search for efficient institutional structures, and more by the public goal of ensuring a form of quasi-democratic legitimacy consistent with the State's role as ultimate bearer of economic risk in respect of large, socially significant corporate organizations. The book argues that the legitimate function of corporate law is not simply that of mimicking the market by providing the sets of rules which participants themselves would rationally have bargained for in the absence of a formal legal framework. Rather, its analysis portrays the corporate rule-making process as a complex hybrid of publicly- and privately-driven pressures motivating compliance with accountability norms and entailing continual adaptation of institutional structures to dual political and economic forces. This has the dual effect of widening the ambit of the State's legitimate policy-making role in corporate governance, while at the same refuting the purported survival value of prevailing governance structures in British public companies.


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Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights: Same-sex Marriage in the States by Robert J. Hume
New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
KF539 .H86 2013 Balcony

In Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights: Same-Sex Marriage in the States, Robert J. Hume examines how the democratization of state courts and state constitutional systems has influenced the capacity of judges to protect minority rights. Through an intensive examination of same-sex marriage policy, Hume shows that democratic innovations like judicial elections and initiative amendment procedures have conditioned the impact of judges on state marriage laws. Using a combination of original and publicly available data, Hume demonstrates that "courthouse democracy" has influenced the behavior of state judges, the reactions of the public to state court decisions, and the long-term policy consequences of these decisions, including the passage of state constitutional amendments. Hume concludes that judges will be capable of producing meaningful social change - and protecting minority rights - only when they have the institutional resources that they need to stand against popular opinion.


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A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation by Eric D. Weitz
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003
HV6322.7 .W45 2003 Basement

Why did the twentieth century witness unprecedented organized genocide? Can we learn why genocide is perpetrated by comparing different cases of genocide? Is the Holocaust unique, or does it share causes and features with other cases of state-sponsored mass murder? Can genocide be prevented? Blending gripping narrative with trenchant analysis, Eric Weitz investigates four of the twentieth century's major eruptions of genocide: the Soviet Union under Stalin, Nazi Germany, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and the former Yugoslavia. Drawing on historical sources as well as trial records, memoirs, novels, and poems, Weitz explains the prevalence of genocide in the twentieth century--and shows how and why it became so systematic and deadly. Weitz depicts the searing brutality of each genocide and traces its origins back to those most powerful categories of the modern world: race and nation. He demonstrates how, in each of the cases, a strong state pursuing utopia promoted a particular mix of extreme national and racial ideologies. In moments of intense crisis, these states targeted certain national and racial groups, believing that only the annihilation of these "enemies" would enable the dominant group to flourish. And in each instance, large segments of the population were enticed to join in the often ritualistic actions that destroyed their neighbors. This book offers some of the most absorbing accounts ever written of the population purges forever associated with the names Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Milosevic. A controversial and richly textured comparison of these four modern cases, it identifies the social and political forces that produce genocide.


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Mistrial: An Inside Look at How The Criminal Justice System Works… and Sometimes Doesn’t by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris
New York: Gotham Books, 2013
KF9223 .G38 2013 Balcony

A searing and entertaining manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of Americas most prominent defense attorneys. From the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle to the television ratings bonanza of the O.J. Simpson trial, a perfect storm of media coverage has given the public an unprecedented look inside the courtroom, kicking off popular courtroom shows and TV legal commentary that further illuminate how the criminal justice system operates. Or has it? In Mistrial, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris debunk the myths of judges as Solomon-like figures, jurors as impartial arbiters of the truth, and prosecutors as super-ethical heroes. Mistrial draws the curtain on the courts ugly realities--from stealth jurors who secretly swing for a conviction, to cops who regularly lie on the witness stand, to defense attorneys terrified of going to trial. Ultimately, the authors question whether a justice system model drawn up two centuries ago before blogs and television is still viable today. In the aftermath of recent high-profile cases, the flaws in Americas justice system are more glaring than ever. Geragos and Harris are legal experts and prominent criminal defense attorneys who have worked on everything from celebrity media-circuses--having represented clients like Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown, Susan MacDougal, and Gary Condit--to equally compelling cases defending individuals desperate to avoid the spotlight. Shining unprecedented light on what really goes on in the courtroom, Mistrial is an enjoyable, fun look at a system that rarely lets you see behind the scenes.


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The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption by Laurence Leamer
New York: Times Books / Henry Holt, 2013
KF229.C37 L43 2013 Balcony

A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice. A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America's electric power. But wealth and influence weren't enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company's mines-in which scores died unnecessarily. As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice in France, his company polluted the drinking water of hundreds of citizens while he himself fostered baroque vendettas against anyone who dared challenge his sovereignty over coal country. Just about the only thing that stood in the way of Blankenship's tyranny over a state and an industry was a pair of odd-couple attorneys, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, who undertook a legal quest to bring justice to this corner of America. From the backwoods courtrooms of West Virginia they pursued their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and to a dramatic decision declaring that the wealthy and powerful are not entitled to purchase their own brand of law. The Price of Justice is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it's true, it's scarier than fiction.


   

The Golden Yoke: The Legal Cosmology of Buddhist by Rebecca Redwood French
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995
KNQ8708 .F74 1995 Basement

The "golden yoke" of Buddhist Tibet was the last medieval legal system still in existence in the middle of the twentieth century. This book reconstructs that system as a series of layered narratives from the memories of people who participated in the daily operation of law in the houses and courtyards, the offices and courts of Tibet prior to 1959. The practice of law in this unique legal world, which lacked most of our familiar signposts, ranged from the fantastic use of oracles in the search for evidence to the more mundane presentation of cases in court. Buddhism and law, two topics rarely intertwined in Western consciousness, are at the center of this work. The Tibetan legal system was based on Buddhist philosophy and reflected Buddhist thought in legal practice and decision making. For Tibetans, law is a cosmology, a kaleidoscopic patterning of relations which is constantly changing, recycling, and re-forming even as it integrates the universe and the individual into a timeless mandalic whole. The Golden Yoke causes us to rethink American legal culture. It argues that in the United States legal matters are segregated into a separate space with rigidly defined categories. The legal cosmology of Buddhist Tibet brings into question both this autonomous framework and most of the presumptions we have about the very nature of law, from precedent and res judicata to rule formation and closure


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According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family by Angela Onwuachi-Willig
New Haven : Yale University Press, 2013
KF228.R47 O59 2013 Balcony

This landmark book looks at what it means to be a multiracial couple in the United States today. According to Our Hearts begins with a look back at a 1925 case in which a two-month marriage ends with a man suing his wife for misrepresentation of her race, and shows how our society has yet to come to terms with interracial marriage. Angela Onwuachi-Willig examines the issue by drawing from a variety of sources, including her own experiences. She argues that housing law, family law, and employment law fail, in important ways, to protect multiracial couples. In a society in which marriage is used to give, withhold, and take away status--in the workplace and elsewhere--she says interracial couples are at a disadvantage, which is only exacerbated by current law.


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Take Up Your Pen: Unilateral Persidential Directives in American Politics by Graham G. Dodds
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013
KF5053 .D63 2013 Balcony

Executive orders and proclamations afford presidents an independent means of controlling a wide range of activities in the federal government--yet they are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the controversial edicts known as universal presidential directives seem to violate the separation of powers by enabling the commander-in-chief to bypass Congress and enact his own policy preferences. As Clinton White House counsel Paul Begala remarked on the numerous executive orders signed by the president during his second term: "Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool." Although public awareness of unilateral presidential directives has been growing over the last decade--sparked in part by Barack Obama's use of executive orders and presidential memoranda to reverse many of his predecessor's policies as well as by the number of unilateral directives George W. Bush promulgated for the "War on Terror"--Graham G. Dodds reminds us that not only has every single president issued executive orders, such orders have figured in many of the most significant episodes in American political history. In Take Up Your Pen, Dodds offers one of the first historical treatments of this executive prerogative and explores the source of this authority; how executive orders were legitimized, accepted, and routinized; and what impact presidential directives have had on our understanding of the presidency, American politics, and political development. By tracing the rise of a more activist central government--first advanced in the Progressive Era by Theodore Roosevelt--Dodds illustrates the growing use of these directives throughout a succession of presidencies. More important, Take Up Your Pen questions how unilateral presidential directives fit the conception of democracy and the needs of American citizens.


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Humanity in War: Frontline Photography Since 1860 by Caroline Moorehead
Geneva: ICRC, 2009
UH535 .M66 2009 Basement

Published to commemorate the 150 years since the idea for the Red Cross was born at the Battle of Solferino in Italy, Humanity in War traces the history of the largest humanitarian organization in the world through its remarkable photographic archive. Part of an international campaign, these iconic images serve to document the realities of war and the effectiveness of the now omnipresent Red Cross. They reveal and promote what can be achieved when aid to the suffering is given without discrimination. They are also a history of the evolution of photography itself. Ranging from the very first days of photography--the American Civil War, for instance--to the work of modern-day photographers and photojournalists including James Nachtwey, Sebastian Salgado, Eric Bouvier, and Nick Danziger, the images speak for themselves and are reproduced in exceptional quality. As the nature of war has changed over the decades, so the Red Cross has evolved to include not just medical assistance but teachers, water experts, nutritionists, logicians, lawyers, and politicians. But their activities remain the same: visiting detainees, brokering prisoner exchanges, repatriating the wounded, tracing the missing, and putting families in touch with each other. Caroline Moorehead is a biographer and journalist. Her previous books include a history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a biography of Martha Gellhorn. James Nachtwey is an influential American photojournalist and war photographer who has been awarded the Overseas Press Club's coveted Robert Capa Gold Medal an unprecedented five times.