Lawrence Friedman’s Provocative The Human Rights Culture, Views the Modern Arc of Rights as a Social and Historical Phenomenon

Newly released in nine digital formats, as well as paperback and hardback editions:  the latest book from the acclaimed legal historian Lawrence M. Friedman, professor of law at Stanford University. He does not mind going against the grain of most writers on human rights, to ask questions about its origins and import that the previous literature sidesteps. This is not the typical legal or philosophical examination of rights. This book instead asks: Why is it — as a social and historical matter — that rights discourse is so prevalent and compelling to the current world?

“Reams of books and articles have been written about human rights, but THE HUMAN RIGHTS CULTURE is unique.  It is the first comprehensive, sociological study of human rights in the contemporary period.  With his characteristic erudition and graceful style, Lawrence Friedman addresses all the central topics: women’s rights, minority rights, privacy, social rights, cultural rights, the role of courts, whether human rights are universal, and much more.  This surprisingly compact book presents a balanced discussion of each issue, filled with fascinating details and examples.  Friedman’s core argument is that the recent rise of human rights discourse around the globe is the product of modernity–in particular the spread of the cultural belief that people are unique individuals entitled to respect and the opportunity to flourish.   This terrific book will be informative not only to human rights experts and practitioners but also to people who wish to read a clear and sophisticated introduction to the field.”
–Brian Z. Tamanaha, Professor of Law, Washington University

Available in ebooks, paperback, hardback, and PDF:

Amazon, for Kindle.

Barnes & Noble, for Nook.

Available at the Apple iBooks store (previewed here); look for it directly on the iPad or in iTunes.

Print edition in paperback on the general Amazon site,  and from our eStore page with fulfillment by Amazon. Also at Barnes & Noble,, YBP Library Services, Ingram, and other leading retailers and online sites.

Library-quality hardcover: available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, YBP Library Services, and other booksellers, as well as the catalogs of Ingram and Baker & Taylor.


At Smashwords in multiple ebook formats, ePUB, downloadable PDF, rtf, and Sony edition. And at Diesel Books and Kobobooks.  Downloadable at Amazon UK, and Amazon Germany and France, for Kindle. Also available at Google Play.


ISBN: 9781610270700 (hardcover)   |   9781610270717 (pbk.) |   9781610270724 (Kindle)   |   9781610270731 (ePUB)

Lawrence M. Friedman is the Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford University. An internationally renowned, prize-winning legal historian, Friedman has for a generation been the leading expositor of the history of American law to a global audience of lawyers and lay people alike—and a leading figure in the law & society movement. He is particularly well known for treating legal history as a branch of general social history. From his award-winning History of American Law, first published in 1973, to his American Law in the 20th Century, published in 2003, his canonical works have become classic textbooks in legal and undergraduate education. Friedman is a prolific author on crime and punishment, and his numerous books have been translated into multiple languages. His first book, Contract Law in America, is available again from Quid Pro Books, adding new introductions in 2011.