The entries for this next batch of Books for Law Talking Guys all have something very special in common: A lack of copyright combined with the free distribution power of electronic media means that you can download these books for free to your e-reader or computer.
16. Copyright Basics, Library of Congress Copyright Office
What better to kick off a list of free books than a free book on copyright? Not exactly a great work of literature, the combination of a law topic plus government authorship guarantees it will be incredibly dull, but it's still a great resource. If you're a law student taking an intellectual property class, use it as a free supplement. If you're just a lawyer, put on your autodidact hat and start teaching yourself some law.
Professors will want to see the Library of Congress's more specialized book, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.
If the previous work was dry, this book has all the appeal of the vacuum of space. Yet, it demonstrates an important change in legal research, the free distribution of legislative texts. You no longer have to buy a hard copy, or pay through the nose to look it up on Lexis or West.
...And okay, sure, you didn't have to do either of those before. With a little bit of Googling, you can find whatever statute or regulation you're looking for online for free. This book is on the list because a lot of law students and young lawyers don't know that these free resources exist. It's not always part of their basic research training.
18. The Altruist in Politics, Benjamin Cardozo
It's not a book, it's an essay. And, it's not even the sort of essay you expect in the legal field, 70 pages long with 400 footnotes.
Nope, just a few pages on how altruism in politics typically turns leads to the state trying to grab everything that everyone owns. Cardozo is talking about communism, but you'll probably find a bit of a connection to the current debate over wealth distribution in the United States.
19. Monopolies and the People, Charles Whiting Baker
We can't put a work on the list talking about the dangers of communism without getting something on the opposite end of the spectrum. Travel back to 1889, and join Baker for a discussion on the development and effect of monopolization of the linseed oil business, and other exciting things.
20. Industrial Conspiracies, Clarence Darrow
"I don't care who makes a law, if you will let me interpret it."
Another left-of-center work, but at least now we're moving into territory that might be a little bit enjoyable to read. This work is the transcribed copy of a speech Darrow gave in 1912, about the nature of legislation and judicial interpretation, as well as the use of conspiracy laws against labor.
21. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
We shouldn't have to tell you what this book is about. Not only does the name say it all, but you should have heard of it at some point already. A hardcover copy can set you back $80 or more, so you stand to save a bit of cash and a lot of shelf space by getting this in an electronic format.
Of course, odds are you're never going to read it, so it might be worth actually paying for instead. Why? So that people will at least see it on your shelves and think how smart (and not at all a pretentious asshole) you are.
22. The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ketcham
Everyone in America is supposed to love Lincoln, especially law and government types. So, we might as well put a Lincoln biography on the list. But, unlike contemporary biographies which simply tap in to America's obligatory adoration of the man, this book was written by someone who actually knew Lincoln, a general in the Union army and later a member of the House of Representatives, representing New York.
23. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
Another book that you've probably heard a lot about but never bothered to read. One of the most fundamental books on economics, if you want to have a serious opinion about anything, you should probably suck it up and start reading.
24.The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Not only are the stories a great read, and detective novels are close enough to the realm of law to be of interest to most law types, the stories of Sherlock Holmes provide an extra special benefit to intellectuals. They remind you that however smart you think you are, you're probably only a standard deviation above average.
25. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
We're not saying that there's a parallel between Dorian Gray's corruption and the effects that the Golden Handcuffs have on the legal profession. Nope. Not saying that. At all.