[This review was published in the September 1984 issue of Universitas, the national publication of University Professors for Academic Order.] 

 

 

Polish Law Throughout the Ages: 1,000 Years of Legal Thought in Poland

W. J. Wagner, ed.

Hoover Institution Press, 1970

 

Reviewed by Dwight D. Murphey

 

            In 1970, fourteen scholars collaborated under the editorship of Wenceslas J. Wagner, now a member of UPAO and a professor of law at the University of Detroit Law School, to assemble a series of essays on Polish legal history.  The work was done in connection with the Polish Congress of Contemporary Science and Culture in Exile to commemorate the Polish millennium of Christianity.  Surprisingly, it was the first publication in English covering the history of Polish law.

            Although published in 1970, the book is especially timely in light of events in Poland in the recent past—events that have inspired renewed admiration for the Polish people.

            Basically chronological, although without pretense of exhausting the subject, the essays are scholarly and informative.  I found particularly interesting the revelation (or so it was to me) that Poland was an early leader in certain humane values: the lack of absolute monarchy; in the 15th century, a guarantee to the nobility against arbitrary arrest and the establishment of a parliamentary system; a heritage of religious toleration; and a long-standing reverence for the Rule of Law.  Of special interest, too, are the essays on the specifics of Communist legal administration during the years following World War II.  It is not light reading for diversion, but I heartily recommend it to UPAO readers.