Faculty Book Talks


Browse the collection of our faculty book talks below or search for talks in MORRIS.


Kauffman, Zachary D. Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities. February 7, 2013. Room 120, Yale Law School. This unique, essential collection of first-hand accounts is an inspiring and informative addition to the evolving social entrepreneurship literature. It will be of particular interest to social entrepreneurs; students, scholars, and practitioners of business, management, public policy, social policy, and development studies; anyone with a philanthropic mindset; and all those who are invested in creating and maintaining a socially responsible, accountable world.


Beirne, Logan. Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency. April 1, 2013. Room 122, Yale Law School. Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers' approach to government and this history's impact on today. Delving into the forgotten - and often lurid - facts of the Revolutionary War, Logan Beirne focuses on the nation's first commander in chief, George Washington, as he shaped the very meaning of the U.S. Constitution in the heat of battle. Blood of Tyrants pulls the reader directly into the scenes, filling the void in our understanding of the presidency and our ingenious Founders' pragmatic approach to issues we still face today.


Macey, Jonathan. The Death of Corporate Reputation: How Integrity Has Been Destroyed on Wall Street. April 23, 2013. Yale Bookstore. Why did the financial scandals really happen? Why are they continuing to happen? In The Death of Corporate Reputation, Jonathan Macey reveals the real, non-intuitive reason, and offers a new path forward. This book describes the transformation in American finance from the old reputational model to the existing laissez faire model.


FALL 2012

Mashaw, Jerry. Creating the Administrative Constitution: The Lost One Hundred Years of American Administrative Law. October 22, 2012. Room 122 Yale Law School. This groundbreaking book is the first to look at administration and administrative law in the earliest days of the American republic. Mashaw demonstrates that from the very beginning Congress delegated vast discretion to administrative officials and armed them with extrajudicial adjudicatory, rulemaking, and enforcement authority. Video here.


Witt, John. Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History. October 23, 2012. Room 128 Yale Law School. In this masterful and strikingly original history, John Witt charts the alternately troubled and triumphant course of the laws of war in America from the Founding Founders to the dawn of the modern era, revealing the history of a code that reshaped the laws of war the world over. Video here.



Whitman, James. The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War. November 28, 2012.  Room 129 Yale Law School. Whitman explains why the ritualized violence of the past was more effective than modern warfare in bringing carnage to an end, and why humanitarian laws that cling to a notion of war as evil have led to longer, more barbaric conflicts. Video here.



Weil, Patrick. The Sovereign Citizen: Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic. November 29, 2012. Room 122 Yale Law School. Weil examines the twentieth century legal procedures, causes, and enforcement of denaturalization to illuminate an important but neglected dimension of Americans' understanding of sovereignty and federal authority: a citizen is defined, in part, by the parameters that could be used to revoke that same citizenship. Video here.



Amar, Akhil Reed. America's Unwritten Consitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. December 3, 2012. Room 128 Yale Law School. Amar presents a bold new vision of the American constitutional system, showing how the complementary relationship between the Constitution’s written and unwritten components is one of America’s greatest and most enduring strengths. Videohere.



Greenhouse, Linda. The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction. December 4, 2012. Room 128 Yale Law School. Greenhouse offers a fascinating institutional biography of a place and its people - men and women - who exercise great power but whose names and faces are unrecognized by many Americans and whose work often appears cloaked in mystery. Video here




Fiss, Owen.  Dictates of Justice: Essays on Law and Human Rights.  February 1, 2012.  Room 122 Yale Law School.  Reflecting upon his time advising Argentinian President Raúl Alfonsín and his administration during the human rights trials that the country conducted in the mid 1980s, Fiss came to see human rights as universal social ideals that are also deeply rooted in a country's processes of national self-determination. Video here.



Post, Robert C.  Democracy, Expertiseand Academic Freedom.  February 7, 2012.  Room 122 Yale Law School.  Post shows that the familiar understanding of the First Amendment, which stresses the "marketplace of ideas" and which holds that "everyone is entitled to an opinion," is inadequate to create and preserve the expert knowledge that is necessary for a modern democracy to thrive. Videohere.



Hvistendahl, Mara.  Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consquences of a World Full of Men.  February 9, 2012.  Room 127 Yale Law School.  Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Hvistendahl examines not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them.



Kennedy, Randall.  The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.  February 13, 2012.  Yale Bookstore.  Eschewing the critical excesses of both the left and the right, Kennedy offers a gimlet-eyed view of Obama’s triumphs and travails, his strengths and weaknesses, as they pertain to the troubled history of race in America.



Shapiro, Scott.  Legality.  February 21, 2012 at Labyrinth Books.  Shapiro writes in a clear manner accessible to those with little or no law or philosophy background, yet his investigation is sophisticated and nuanced of Austin's sanction theory, Hart and the rule of recognition, the making of a legal system, judicial decision making, Dworkin, and distrust and trust.  Video here


Mc Gerr, Rosemarie.  A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School New Statutes of England February 24, 2012.  Room 122 Yale Law School.  McGerr discusses one of the most beautifully decorated 15th-century copies of the New Statutes of England, uncovering how the manuscript's unique interweaving of legal, religious, and literary discourses frames the reader's perception of the work.



Peters, Jean Koh.  A Teacher's Reflection Book: Exercises, Stories and Invitations.  March 21, 2012.  Yale Bookstore.  This resource for university teachers provides stories, prompts, exercises, and examples that allow educators to analyze their teaching and their interactions with students on a day-to-day basis. Also can be used to facilitate retreats and workshops.  Video here.



Gordon-Reed, Annette.  The Hemingses of Monticello: an American family.  James A. Thomas Lecture.  March 5, 2012, at Yale Law School.  Not only do we meet Elizabeth Hemings, we follow the Hemings family as they become the property of Jefferson through his marriage to Martha Wayles. The Hemings-Wayles children, siblings to Martha, played pivotal roles in the life at Jefferson's estate. Video here.



Kumar, Raj C.  Corruption and Human Rights in India: Comparative Perspectives on Transperency and Good Governance.  April 2, 2012.  Room 121 Yale Law School.   This book differentiates between two approaches to dealing with corruption, the criminal law enforcement approach to recognizing criminal culpability and the human rights approach to seeking accountability for corruption.



Ledewitz, Bruce.  Church, State and the Crisis in American Secularism.  April 4, 2012.  Room 121 Yale Law School. Yeshiva student turned secularist, Bruce Ledewitz seeks common ground for believers and nonbelievers regarding the law of church and state. He argues that allowing government to promote higher law values through the use of religious imagery would resolve the current impasse in the interpretation of the Establishment Clause. It would offer secularism an escape from its current tendency toward relativism in its dismissal of all that religion represents and encourage a deepening of the expression of meaning in the public square without compromising secular conceptions of government.Video here.


The Last Utopia.  April 11, 2012.  Yale Bookstore.  A decade after 1968, human rights began to make sense across eastern and western Europe, as well as the United States and Latin America; crystallizing in a few short years as social activism and political rhetoric moved it from the hallways of the United Nations to the global forefront.  It was on the ruins of earlier political utopias, that human rights achieved contemporary prominence. 


Burt, Robert A.  In the Whirlwind.  April 24, 2012.  Yale Bookstore.  Burt conceptualizes the political theory of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles through the rich narratives of key biblical figures - from Adam and Eve to Noah, Cain, Abraham, Moses, Job, and Jesus.   Taking these Bibles as a unified whole, Burt traces God’s relationship with humanity as it evolves from complete harmony at the outset to continual struggle.

FALL 2011

Gertner, Nancy.  In Defense of Women.   September 20, 2011 at the Yale Bookstore.  Judge Nancy Gertner recalls her struggle to succeed personally and professionally while working on benchmark cases during the 1970s, which included some of the most prominent criminal and civil rights cases of the time. All the while, Gertner drove home the point that women lawyers belonged in our courtrooms.Video here.



Balkin, Jack.  Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World.  October 5, 2011. 

A leading constitutional theorist, Balkin argues  that the American constitutional project is based in faith, hope, and a narrative of shared redemption. Our belief that the Constitution will deliver us from evil shows in the stories we tell one another about where our country came from and where it is headed.  Video here.


Melchoir, Kurt W.  Off the Record: Sidebars from a Trial Lawyer's Life.  November 3, 2011.  Melchior '51 has seen it all, and his experiences have yielded an instructive and entertaining book. Each of the one-hundred-plus, wide-ranging anecdotes is true. From dealing with a client who baldly lies to get a lawyer to take his case, to how to handle a star witness who's so nervous she's shaking, to the fine points of jury selection. 





Rubenfeld, Jed.  The Death Instinct.  February 10, 2011 at the Yale Bookstore. New York, 1920. Wall Street suffers the most destructive and deadly terrorist attack ever committed on US soil. Three people caught in the blast are led on a harrowing journey from Paris to Prague, unraveling secrets and the shocking truth behind the terror in Wall Street.  Video here.



Sharfstein, Daniel J.  The Invisible Line:  Three American Families and the Secret - Journey from Black to White.  March 7, 2011.  In this sweeping history, Sharfstein unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are. Video here.


Martin, Gordon A., Jr.  Count Them One by One:  Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote.  March 29, 2011 at Labyrinth Books.  A comprehensive account of the groundbreaking case written by Martin, one of the Justice Department's trial attorneys.  Martin returned to Mississippi and interviewed the still-living witnesses, their children, and friends, intertwining current reflections with commentary about the case itself. Video here



Graetz, Michael.  The End of Energy.  April 4, 2011 at Labyrinth Books.  Graetz describes more than forty years of energy policy incompetence--from the Nixon administration's fumbled response to the OPEC oil embargo through the failure to develop alternative energy sources to the current political standoff over "cap and trade"--and argues that we must make better decisions for our energy future. Video here.


Gormley, Ken.  The Death of American Virture:  Clinton vs. Starr April 12, 2011 at Labyrinth Books. Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation to the Monica Lewinsky affair.  Video here.



Carter, Stephen L.  The Violence of Peace:  America's Wars in the Age of Obama.  March 31, 2011 at the Yale Law School, Room 127, 5:30 p.m.  Carter decodes what President Obama's views on war mean for America and its role in military conflict, now and going forward.  Video here.



FALL 2010

Ayres, Ian.  Carrots and Sticks:  Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done.  September 21, 2010.  Yale Law School.  Ayres applies the lessons learned from behavioral economics to introduce readers to the concept of "commitment contracts" an easy but high-powered strategy for setting and achieving goals already in use by successful companies and individuals across America.  Video here.



Eskridge, William B.  A Republic of Statutes:  the New American Constitution. October 5, 2010.  Labyrinth Books.  William Eskridge and John Ferejohn propose an original theory of constitutional law whereby, while the Constitution provides a vision, our democracy advances by means of statutes that supplement or even supplant the written Constitution.  Video here.


Ackerman, Bruce. The Decline and Fall of the American Republic.  October 20, 2010.  Labyrinth Books. Ackerman shows how the institutional dynamics of the last half-century have transformed the American presidency into a potential platform for political extremism and lawlessness. Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the War on Terror are only symptoms of deeper pathologies. Video here.



Weil, Patrick.  How to Be French:  Nationality in the Making since 1789.  November 16, 2010.  Labyrinth Books.  A magisterial history of French nationality law from 1789 to the present, filled with captivating human dramas, with legal professionals, and with statesmen including La Fayette, Napoleon, Clemenceau, de Gaulle, and Chirac. Video here


Hacker, Jacob.  Winner Take All Politics.  December 1, 2010.  Labyrinth Books.   Hacker demonstrates how a political system that traditionally has been responsive to the interests of the middle class has been hijacked by the superrich. In doing so, it not only changes how we think about American politics, but also points the way to rebuilding a democracy that serves the interests of the many rather than just those of the wealthy few. Video from the talk.


Kysar, Douglas.  Regulating From Nowhere:  Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity.  December 2, 2010.  Yale Law School.  Drawing insight from a diverse array of sources, Kysar offers a new theoretical basis for understanding environmental law and policy - exposing a critical flaw in the dominant policy paradigm of risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, which asks policymakers to, in essence, “regulate from nowhere.” Video here.



Rana, Aziz.  The Two Faces of American Freedom.  December 8, 2010.  Labyrinth Books.  Aziz boldly reinterprets the American political tradition from the colonial period to modern times, placing issues of race relations, immigration, and presidentialism in the context of shifting notions of empire and citizenship. Video from the talk.


Siegel, Reva and Linda Greenhouse.  Before Roe v. Wade:  Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate.  December 9, 2010.  Labyrinth Books.  This work traces how arguments for legalizing abortion for public health purposes led to goals of women's movement in seeking liberty, equality, and dignity, and moved towards an appeal by others to defend the "right to life" of the unborn.   Video from the talk.



Resnik, Judith and Dennis Curtis.  Representing Justice:  Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms.  December 15, 2010.    Labyrinth Books. By mapping the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and by tracing the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—the authors explore the evolution of adjudication into its modern form as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy. The authors analyze how Renaissance “rites” of judgment turned into democratic “rights,” requiring governments to respect judicial independence, provide open and public hearings, and accord access and dignity to “every person.” Video from the talk.