Reviews

Book  reviews (extracts)

‘The purpose of the reviewed book, as stated in its Preface and on its back cover, is to present a fresh contextualized and cosmopolitan perspective on comparative law, targeted at a wide audience composed of students, scholars and “others”. The author… is eminently qualified for the task...  I like the book and find it stimulating and thought-provoking in more than one way. It provides rewarding reading for legal scholars, including those who normally do not engage in comparative law research. It can be of use for students taking in-depth elective courses on comparative law or writing diploma papers with focus on comparative law. The book is of high quality, not only regarding its contents but also from pedagogical point of view ...’ Michael Bogdan, (2015) 79 Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht 213-215

‘How to compare oranges with apples? This is the central methodological issue that informs the work by Mathias Siems “Comparative Law”... The author’s objective is not to analyse the applicable laws of oranges and apples nor to find similarities or differences between them, but rather to explore what are the tools available to the present-day comparative lawyer in order to analyse the similarities and differences between them. From this perspective, the author reviews comparative law research as conducted over the past few decades and provides students and scholars alike with a new and comprehensive vision of what comparative law research could and should be today…. This work by Mathias Siems provides a very interesting, well-written, and accessible state-of-the-art perspective on comparative law methodology.’ Barbara Pozzo, (2015) 23 European Review of Private Law 705-706

‘Siems delivers ... a comprehensive state of the art volume addressing the theoretical debates that have animated the scene in recent decades. Endorsements from other legal scholars on the publisher’s website [“insightful overview of key issues”, “thoroughly researched and clearly written book”, and “ideal starting point for anyone considering research in comparative law”] are certainly not overstated. We are in presence of a readable tour de force, a fair account of the various currents and schools of thought in the field….. This is a hybrid volume, textbook and research book at the same time. .. It enriches the debate in its own right by setting out diverse approaches to comparative law.’ Emma Patrignani, (2015) 10 The  Journal of Comparative Law 280-293.

‘Prof. Siems has graced the world of comparativists with a most comprehensive, holistic, and analytical account of the discipline in the last few years. The book begins with an introduction setting the comparative agenda and explaining what are the benefits of comparison and what are, if any, the boundaries of comparative law. The introduction is innovative and is used as a background to the book, which covers traditional and non-traditional areas of comparative law. This is one of the main advantages of the book: nothing is taken for granted, and all is assessed under a new prism of comparative law …. This is a compelling new doctrine in comparative law, of which this book is a delightful, elegant, and comprehensive taster. It is a promising start to a new approach to comparative law, which is persuasive and well argued. This is a book necessary for academics and researchers in comparative law, which I fully expect to last the test of scrutiny and time. Helen Xanthaki, (2015) 17 European Journal of Law Reform 475.

‘Comparative law studies have had a lustrous and rich history. As a result, any new addition to the existing literature faces the dual-faceted challenge of both neatly and concisely summarizing the purpose, function, method, and key issues in the study of comparative law and creatively presenting new ideas, techniques, and themes that move the subject forward. This book achieves both well…. This book brings comparative law from its present conventional status in legal scholarship to the centre of attention by relying on some innovative techniques and presenting some fresh angles. More importantly, it moves the whole of comparative law scholarship one step further, not only as a subject or discipline but also as a concrete methodology (instead of a method of study) and a tool for legal construction (or deconstruction). The current book is no doubt one of the first tiered comparative law books showing comparatists, scholars, and students how the subject can be further developed over the long term…’ Wei Shen, (2015) 10 Asian Journal of Comparative Law 381-383.

‘… each section follows a rigorous structure in which the topic is first explained in general terms, before the various issues and the main authors are discussed in detail, and a brief critical assessment is made of the contribution and limits of each approach for comparative law research. This succeeds in providing a highly readable and comprehensive narrative across the different methods. Illustrations are drawn from a variety of Western and non-Western countries, from diverse areas of the law and concerning diverse legal issues ... The overall impact then of this book is that it is provocative, exhorting a diverse audience of seasoned scholars, students, policymakers, and legal practitioners to become reflexive (197) and to design their own methods so that they can justify their uses of comparative law to answer research questions. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, providing a profusion of refreshing ideas!’ Yseult Marique, (2016) 20 Edinburgh Law Review 109-111.

‘In Comparative Law, Mathias Siems has produced a wide-ranging yet succinct and crisply written introduction to the field of comparative law. The glossy photos of apples and oranges on the book’s cover communicate two insights that are woven throughout the volume. First, law -- like fruit -- invites comparison, explicit or implicit, in order to be thoroughly appreciated and perfected. Second, comparative analysis will fail, at some level, to capture fully the unique, distinctive, and incomparable features of any given legal problem, culture, institution, or case. Siems digests mountains of pedagogical and scholarly materials written from many different cultural, historical, linguistic, and disciplinary perspectives, and manages to do so in an elegant, nuanced, and contextualized manner. The book will be a valuable resource for twenty-first-century students and scholars, particularly those who are new to comparative law….’ Julie C. Suk, (2016) 61 American Journal of Comparative Law 512-517.


‘[T]he conventional forum of scholarly discussion about comparative law is found in handbooks – even these days, when journal articles have been starting to gain more and more relevance…. This tradition is continued by Mathias Siems, Professor at Durham University, whose book entitled Comparative Law was published in the first half of 2014 in Cambridge. Readers can tell at first glance that the book is the result of comprehensive scholarly research...the volume is very rich in ideas and provides an in-depth examination of several subjects... The author’s thought process, style and the content – the encyclopedic richness of Siems’ work – could serve an important role for those who are receptive to the comparative aspect of a given legal problem.’ Balazs Fekete, (2016) 23 The Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 740-744.


Endorsements (from CUP website)


'Comparative law has transformed into a challenging and interdisciplinary field with a long intellectual history. Mathias Siems' welcomed addition to the field offers a stimulating and thoughtful introduction to a new kind of comparative law which is contextualised and cosmopolitan as to its nature. The book offers an insightful overview of key issues arising in the comparative study of law today. Siems skilfully deals with established approaches, but also provides cutting-edge views to socio-legal and statistical approaches as well as providing examples from politics, economics and development studies. The work by Siems is a concise synthesis and it is bound to enlighten and provoke its readers. This well-composed book makes wonderful reading for both students and scholars.' Jaakko Husa, University of Lapland 

'A thoroughly researched and clearly written book, which sums up the many developments comparative law has taken since 1971 when Zweigert and Kötz became the authoritative textbook. Siems explains how cultural turn, discourse analysis, socio-legal studies, economic or numerical analysis of the law, or the dynamics of regionalisation and globalisation are shaping comparative law today, and predicts that 'implicit comparative law' will increasingly be affected by comparisons in other social sciences with an interest in law. With many illustrations, diagrams and examples, Siems presents a reader-friendly account of the past and present, and a vision of the future of comparative law.' Gerhard Dannemann, Humboldt University of Berlin

'Siems provides a modern, interdisciplinary approach to comparative law. For him, comparative law involves more than examining similarities and differences in legal rules and outcomes. Examining comparative research over the last 40 years, he gives a critical analysis of what comparative study can achieve and suggests a sophisticated range of methods in which it can be undertaken. Refreshingly clear in its style, this book challenges comparative lawyers to play a central part in understanding the place of law in contemporary, complex and interconnected societies. It is an ideal starting point for anyone considering research in comparative law.' John Bell, University of Cambridge