Must Read Book

Webb, Walter Prescott, The Great Plains (1931).

My favorite historical work, which will certainly surprise my colleagues in constitutional and legal history, is Walter Prescott Webb's The Great Plains. The book, of course, has had its ups and downs over the years, damned for its supposed geographical determinism and its efforts to shape the history of the West entirely in the framework of natural resources generally and water in particular. While I acknowledge these issues, I find Webb's breadth of knowledge, the scope of historical imagination, and his talent for taking the big theme down to individual actions to be a model of how to do history as both a story and as a meditation on the relationship of persons to their environment.

Recommended by Kermit L. Hall, President and Professor of History, Utah State University

Kermit L. Hall holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota and a MSL from the Yale Law School. His research and teaching have concentrated on American constitutional and legal history, and he is the author of The Magic Mirror: Law in American History (Oxford University Press, 1991), and the editor-in-chief of the award winning Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (1992). He is also the author or co-author of five other books, more than 100 articles in history, political science, and law journals, and the editor or co-editor of twelve other works. President Hall also served as one of the five members of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board from 1994-1999.