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Book of the Month - November 2017

Our November Book of the Month is Mr Justice McCardie (1869-1933): Rebel, Reformer, and Rogue Judge by Antony Lentin.


According to the Law Journal in 1932, ‘No present-day figure on the Bench is of greater interest than Mr Justice McCardie’. A High Court Judge from 1916 to 1933, no twentieth-century judge was more conspicuous or controversial.

To his critics, he was a ‘rogue judge’ whose headline-hitting pronouncements often angered his fellow judges, called down the ire of the Churches, provoked calls in Parliament for his removal and earned a public rebuke from the Prime Minister.

To his admirers, he was ‘a Crusader on the Bench’, a pioneer who denounced outdated laws, strove to make the law meet the needs of modern society and boldly championed women’s causes, birth control and abortion.

The Law Quarterly Review described him as ‘one of the most interesting men in the history of the English Bench.’


To find out more, please click here to read a sample extract and contents page. 

We are offering all of our readers a generous 60% discount on this best-selling title. To redeem your discount, please enter the promotional code BOMNOV17 during checkout. Please note that this is a time-limited offer that will expire on 30th November 2017.

Please see below for highlights of the praise this book has been receiving:


“[F]rom the pen of Antony Lentin comes this definitive and scholarly but most entertainingly readable biography of McCardie. There are surprisingly few really good, scholarly, biographies of English judges and this is one of the very best. He makes extensive and fascinating use not merely of the law reports but of a wide range of public and private papers, including McCardie's surviving papers. [T]his is a book to be savoured by anyone with an interest in either the history of the English judiciary or the history of family law in the twentieth century. I cannot recommend it too highly.”

—Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court; Family Law Journal


“This is a gem of a book. Under 200 pages in length it is very fully and carefully researched and for the student, however amateur, of the development of English Jurisprudence during an era of massive social change following the close of the Victorian era, a cameo performance of profound insight and quality. For someone who has experienced the unique cloistered and sometimes claustrophobic ambience of the Law courts, Barristers chambers and the Temple it plunges you straight into the early twentieth century world of Bar and Bench with all its professional tittle-tattle and with which we are all still familiar!”

—Sir Paul Coleridge, Chairman of the Marriage Foundation, retired judge of the High Court of England and Wales


“In these post-Brexit vote days when the independence of the judiciary is a hot topic, Antony Lentin’s biography of one of the most controversial judges this country has ever seen is timely. Few have ever publicly expressed themselves with such personal conviction as did Mr Justice McCardie and few have engendered such divided emotions, veering from contempt to something approaching veneration. Lentin leans towards the latter, though like all good lawyers he is scrupulous in recognising the strengths of the other side’s argument and ultimately leaves it to the reader to decide which of the two camps to join.”

—Sally Smith, QC, The Times


“Perhaps the most surprising feature of this lucid and suspenseful biography is that its author – an authority on the lives of eminent British lawyers – comes down heavily in favour of this apparent monster. Yet one comes to the end of this remarkable book with a feeling of gratitude that “Mac” never remotely achieved the kind of power to which he so evidently aspired.”

—W. Sydney Robinson, Wolfson College, Cambridge; Times Literary Supplement


“Lawyers, academics and general readers interested in all things judicial – and their effects on social change – will be especially fascinated. For details read this book, which the author has copiously researched using many original sources.  The result is an absorbing narrative which fills in any number of blanks in the story of Mr Justice McCardie and which therefore makes an important contribution to English legal history.”

—Phillip Taylor, MBE, Barrister-at-Law


“Antony Lentin’s life of Henry Alfred McCardie, published in the centenary year of his appointment to the High Court Bench, offers a fascinating portrait of a judicial figure whose reforming judgments have stood the test of time rather better than some of the public pronouncements that brought him fame and notoriety in his own day.”

—Paul Magrath, Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England & Wales


“This well-researched study of an interesting character (and the not-too-distant legal past) ... offers fascinating insights.”

—David Pickup, The Law Society Gazette


“The eccentric judge – reformer, feminist and gambler – gets a sensitive hearing in Anthony Lentin’s biography.”

—Michael Beloff QC, The Spectator


“This excellent biography by Antony Lentin takes a detached and fascinating look at a very controversial figure. Lentin has combined deep scholarship with vivid imagery, creating a fitting tribute to an extraordinary and populist figure, whose personality and achievements deserve to be remembered. I strongly recommended this striking portrait.”

—Nigel Pascoe QC, Counsel Magazine


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