Rande Kostal wins prestigious legal history award

November 18, 2020

Rande Kostal Professor Rande Kostal has been awarded the 2020 John Phillip Reid Prize of the American Society for Legal History for his book Laying Down the Law: The American Legal Revolutions in Occupied Germany and Japan.

The Reid Prize is awarded annually to "the best monograph published in English in Anglo-American legal history" and is one of the most prestigious awards for legal-historical scholarship.

“This is an outstanding achievement by a top-notch scholar,” says Dean Erika Chamberlain. “Rande joins recent recipients from Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Harvard Universities, and we are exceptionally proud of him.”

His book, published by Harvard University PressLaying Down the Law in 2019, draws from original archival sources to tell the story of the monumental U.S. postwar effort to remake fascist Germany and Japan into liberal rule-of-law nations.

The book sheds new light on the limits of America’s ability to impose democracy on defeated countries.

“In recent years, we’ve heard a series of American politicians claim that the United States brought democracy and the rule of law to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan after the war,” says Kostal. “My book is an assessment of that claim.”

Kostal, a Western Law alumnus, earned his D.Phil. from Oxford University and has been a faculty member at Western Law since 1988, teaching Legal History and Torts.

He is the author of Law and English Railway Capitalism 1825-1875 (Oxford University Press, 1994), A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law (Oxford University Press, 2005), and a number of published writings in Legal History and Tort Law.