Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Authors/Editors

Wilfrid Prest, ed.


Hart Publishing

Publication Date



If the Supreme Court mythologizes Blackstone, it is equally true that Blackstone himself was engaged in something of a mythmaking project. Far from a neutral reporter, Blackstone has some stories to tell, in particular the story of the hero law. The problems associated with using the Commentaries as a transparent window on eighteenth-century American legal norms, however, do not make Blackstone’s text irrelevant today. The chapter concludes with my brief reading of the Commentaries as a critical mirror of some twenty-first-century legal and social structures. That analysis draws on a long-term project, in which I am making my way through all four volumes of the Commentaries and posting short responsive essays online on the Blackstone Weekly.