Ellen Goodman uses extensive extracts from original writings to highlight the main themes of the Western legal tradition. The strength of the book is its clear focus on the heart of the tradition: constitutionalism, representative institutions and rule by law. Goodman links Christianity to its origins in Greek philosophy and Judaism. She delves into the position of the Roman Church as the tenuous, Dark Ages conduit. Feudalism lives and dies and the common law and parliament emerge. The author accurately and vividly charts the main currents, avoiding both the shoals and the myriad tributaries, and so enables readers to have a clearer and deeper understanding of our present legal system.