David Friedman, Peter Leeson, and David Skarbek – Legal Systems Very Different from Ours
Many years ago at a Mont Pelerin Society conference in Reykjavik, I saw Friedman give a talk on Icelandic law during the Free State period, when the island had no central government. This book greatly expands on his earlier work on governance without government. Friedman looks at legal systems in Iceland, Somalia, Gypsy/Roma society, ancient China, Medieval Ireland, the Amish, Comanche, and more. He finds endless ingenuity and creativity among people trying to solve social problems, sometimes in very harsh conditions. Many legal institutions evolve as ways to reduce transaction costs, to reinforce group identity, and 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.