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Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Law and Politics in British Colonial Thought, as its titles implies, covers a vast area of historical interest. While the editors do not call their collection systematic, they do hope to present new ways of thinking to a wide audience; a task in which they succeed, both in terms of approaching localised issues and addressing overarching theoretical and geographical frameworks.
This is a book which could very easily slip under the radar of most historians. Even had they noticed the title, and had their curiosity piqued by the sub-title, after checking the academic discipline of the author (Julian Rivers is Professor of Jurisprudence at Bristol University) many might well have decided that this book was probably of no professional interest to them.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey have only been available to historians online since 2003 but, speaking as someone who probably visits the site two or three times a week, I am bound to wonder at how we all managed before then.