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on 9 January 2004
In this excellent book, Geoffrey Robertson QC gives a very informative and enjoyable account of some of the cases he has dealt with during his carrier at the Bar, spanning, at the time of the publication of his book, over three decades. These included a number of various topics: defamation cases, blasphemy and/or indecency trials, public enquiries as well as human rights missions and death row work.
The book is thrilling, at times it reads like the best detective stories, the accounts given of court proceedings and the anecdotes are often hilarious. Certainly, no prior knowledge of the law is required to enjoy his stories; however, those trained in law will find it especially interesting to see how some of the fundamental tenets of English law (such as the presumption of innocence or the impartiality of the judge) can go pear-shaped in practice.
Most importantly, however, Robertson QC is prepared to take a clear moral stance on human rights and civil liberties and to criticise or defend the law from this viewpoint. He emphasises that, as a member of the legal profession, he does have to abide by certain rules and has certain duties and does not accept anything less from others when engaging in the "justice game".
The book should be recommended to those interested in current affairs, legal issues as well as to those simply enjoying fascinating books telling the story of a person's professional life.
Dan Tivadar
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VINE VOICEon 3 March 2011
Renowned Queen's Council Geoffrey Robertson, most recently seen defending WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has written an amusing, insightful and passionate book on some of the more notable cases he has been intimately involved with.

Lady Diana, Matrix Churchill, the Oz trial and defending The Guardian newspaper against Neil Hamilton MP are just some of the headline-making stories that Robertson throws some personal light on. He shares what draws him to each case and how he analyses it; how events play out in court and the legal and civic ramifications - each episode given a personal slant from a witty and perceptive writer.

Geoffrey Robertson QC both condemns and celebrates the game of justice and values it primarily as a force for the individual to challenge the state, whether that be freedom of expression of a controversial artist, the battle against secretive intelligence agencies or at the most extreme end of the scale, someone challenging the death penalty.

No prior understanding of the English legal system is required as Robertson writes clearly, avoiding the restricted code of legalese. He articulates the importance of having evidence and accusations tested in the most robust, adversarial fashion, a right that is simply too important to give away, even under threat by the state's monster du jour, terrorism. In all, a fascinating read from a man who has been at the centre of legal cases of national importance for over thirty five years.
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on 8 May 2009
An excellent book. As someone with no particular knowledge of the law, this was a most enjoyable recount of the criminal side of the justice system. The author has had the good fortune to be involved in many very interesting cases even from his earliest days, so while I'm sure those committed to print are not representative of the stock in trade, they do raise excellent points and are very well narrated.

The author is biased, and in the nature of a QC presents his side of the case, I spotted several points that I know to be misrepresentations. Still, that was to be expected, and it helps the pace that he makes no pretence at being even handed.

I have no hesitation in strongly recommending the book, especially to someone like myself who was just looking for something out of their field for a bit of variety. The only question in my mind is whether it merits that fifth star.
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on 2 May 1999
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I received it as a gift. Fearing another in the series of books about the law which have proved to be mere self-serving rants taking large bites out of the hands that feed their progenitors, I actually lined up a couple of books of short stories to read between chapters or when I got too annoyed. Instead, I was delighted and absorbed. Robertson celebrates the legal system and shows how it is not the system that fails us but those who endeavour to cheat it. Justice is a "game" in the sense that if everyone plays by the rules, the right side will win. For someone of his profession and profile, Robertson is relatively self-effacing, in the context of what must have been considerable temptation to sound his own horn. And the cases are fascinating, and beautifully told. Most inspiring of all is the strong sense of justice, and above all, ethics, which pervades every aspect of his prose. Robertson clearly believes that the end does not justify the means, and that if rules are broken, in both the long and short term it is justice which suffers. Sometime the erosion of ethical standards makes me want to leave the law. This book makes me want to stay. Mr Robertson, you wouldn't be looking for a pupil, would you?
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I bought this book purely on the strength of Geoffrey Robertson's work in relation to the 'Oz' trial, which he covers at length in Chapter Two. I have developed something of an obsession with that case, ever since downloading the classic BBC production of 1991 from some far-flung Far Eastern corner of the video-sharing internet. It is one of the funniest things I think I have ever seen, with a cast list that includes Nigel Hawthorne, Leslie Phillips and Hugh Grant. Chapter Two of this book presents verbatim some of the classic courtroom exchanges in that case, but seeing such giants of the acting world blithely rattling off some of the more 'colourful' words in our glorious language is a treat indeed. Type 'Trials of Oz' in to your search engine, then look for 'videos'. Don't be put off by all that Mandarin (or whatever it is), just fast forward past Jonathan Dimbleby's introduction (unless that rather loud tie he is wearing does something for you) and enjoy something that the Beeb should have professionally put out there for the paying public years ago - in my ever so humble opinion.

I have no real knowledge of the law, but I do have a layman's fascination with legal matters; This book and I could have been made for each other. I bring nothing to the relationship except a healthy interest in what Geoffrey Robertson has to tell me, and he does the rest in an orderly and thoroughly entertaining style. This is a man of immense experience and great character and his writing style reflects both of those qualities. The index is extensive and thoroughly invaluable and the result is a book which provides a real window into the Legal System. It's a scary thing too, by the sounds of it.
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on 5 July 2010
When one of our most esteemed QCs calls justice a game it's clear the jig is up and we are in trouble. Or just maybe not if in fact it's always been that way. It's very unfortunate that well-meaning trusting lay persons like me (yes) were brought up on a myth of temporal and supernatural justice. It's quite tough late in life to accept that justice is little but a parley between two lawyers seeking self-vindication and profit before a wigged referee we deign to: the judge milord.

Robertson's stories especially the early ones are mesmerising, thrilling, intriguing, funny and absurd. You can't help but root for the underdog at least the way Robertson lays the cases. You're left thinking, is this what my tax money is spent on? On long-haired hippies publishing a comic? Are you kidding me? It wouldn't be so tragic if rich, connected white-collar criminals didn't make a mockery of it all by always being set free on technicalities and faux illnesses. Our magnificent court edificies plastered in impenetrable latin would be nothing but comedy houses if the consequences of losing a case in one weren't so severe. Robertson makes it imperative we realise that freedoms and liberties have to be fought for.

A rousing read.
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on 8 July 2009
absolutley brilliant, a great read for those who desire, seek , need justice...and also want to know why its sometimes fails..
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on 1 July 2010
This is a well-written, fascinating book. Geoffrey Robertson QC is a dominant figure in the fight against violations of human rights and civil liberties. He describes many of the cases in which he has been involved over the last 25 years and in doing so he gives clear and compelling analyses of the dubious actions of prominant individuals and government ministers. The reader will be deeply concerned to read about the steps taken by government ministers in cases that are said to be "likely to prejudice national security". The book is essential reading for anyone who has an interest in the law relating to civil liberties.
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on 13 May 2016
One of the finest books ever written on being a lawyer and on the practice of law. The eminent barrister and writer on legal history Geoffrey Robertson has written on many subjects, including the trial of Charles I and the history of crimes against humanity, but this superb book is perhaps his best book of all, and a first-rate introduction to Robertson as an author as well as to what it means to be a lawyer.
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on 29 June 2014
For anyone who lived thoruhg the 60s and later, this is a fabulous and elegantly-written guide to key trials and the sometimes deeply unsavoury machinations of the law and government behind the scenes. Robertsonb's Pouilly-Fume-dry sense of humour made me howl with laughter in lots of places. Jennifer Shipside
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