Review of Legal Systems Very Different from Ours by David Friedman, Peter Leeson, and David Skarbek.
Friedman finds endless ingenuity and creativity among people trying to solve a wide range of social problems, sometimes in very harsh conditions and in very limiting cultural situations. Many legal institutions evolve as ways to reduce transaction costs, to reinforce group identity, or to enhance respect for social customs—whatever they may be in a given society.
Leeson, a former professor of mine, and David Skarbek contribute chapters on laws among pirates and prisoners, respectively. Interested readers would also enjoy Leeson’s The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates and Skarbek’s The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System as well as Jess Byock’s Viking Age Iceland.