The first edition of Hart & Wechsler's The Federal Courts and the Federal System, published in i953, has deservedly achieved a reputation that is extraordinary among casebooks and, indeed, rare even among learned treatises. Hart & Wechsler I is more than a stimulating collection of cases and basic source material, and its scope is not confined to the operation and functioning of the federal courts in the federal system. Through its extensive notes and its inimitable leading questions, the book constantly raised questions which have "prodded … students and [teachers] to think over their heads about the deepest problems of the legal process." Thus, after twenty years, at an age when the typical casebook slumbers peacefully in retirement, Hart & Wechsler I, unsupplemented, remained vigorous and active as a tool for teachers and an authority for lawyers and judges.
The second edition has been prepared by three outstanding scholars, Paul M. Bator, Paul J. Mishkin, and David L. Shapiro, and Herbert Wechsler has contributed an excellent reworking of the chapter on federal government litigation. The authors avow that their object is to produce a second edition and not a new book (p. xvii). Given the conceded excellence of the first edition, the limited objectives of the second, and the considerable talents of the new contributors, any reviewer confronts more than the usual difficulties that come from attempting to review a casebook – a formidable, highly impressionistic, and perhaps futile task under the best of circumstances. Be all that as it may, my view is that the second edition is at nearly every material point better than its predecessor. Hart & Wechsler II would have greatly pleased the late Henry Hart.
Henry P. Monaghan,
Hart and Wechsler's The Federal Courts and Federal System,
Harv. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/795