A Life in the Craft of Comparative Law

It is obvious to specialists in the law of the European Union (“E.U.”) – a relatively small but steadily growing group in the United States – that a “retrospective” collection of Eric Stein’s writings would be of great interest. From his 1955 article in the Columbia Law Review, the first article about the Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Community to appear in English (p. 473), he has been one of the dominant U.S. scholars of what was initially called “European Community” (“E.C.”) law after the three original European Communities2 and more recently has been rechristened “European Union” law after the creation of the E.U. around and on top ofl the original Communities in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. But this book, which won the 2001 University of Michigan Press Book Award, deserves a much wider readership. It is a fine collection of the craft of comparative law, covering much more than E.U. law, and it also has a very personal aspect that makes it a rich memento of the author and many of the people with whom he has worked. It may be foolhardy to write a review of a book that comes with a “built-in” review, so to speak, and one that says with great acumen most of the really important things that should be said about Stein’s work. Joseph Weiler, another distinguished E.U. scholar and former colleague of Stein’s, has written a Foreword (p. ix) with his customary exuberance and insight that neatly exposes the deepest values of Stein’s work with an inimitable and compelling style. Yet, while warmly commending Weiler’s Foreword to the reader, I will venture another review, but from a slightly different angle. After a brief overview of the book and its special personal elements, I will focus on some specific aspects of Stein’s comparative law craftsmanship and conclude by discussing two of the general issues about divided-powers systems that are raised by the materials in the book.