part ii • legal cultures • kjell å modéer the California Supreme Court.12 That was a simple idea, but path-breaking. Harvardwould never have understood. Theywould have asked, ‘Why bother? What is this all about?’ But John was interested in finding out what is it that this court considered authority. Quantitively. It was really amazingly original. The ideas are very simple, just no one ever did it. And throughout his life he did work which started out with some highly original questions. His work on law and development for instance – I workedwith himon this –was really not in the mainstream.13 The main-stream idea was, roughly, let’s go to these countries and show them the Americanway of this and that, more or less as missionaries. John said, let’s find out what they are doing. Let’s use their scholars, and let’s study their systems empirically. And it was an astonishingly original idea. It was so simple, but no one else was doing it. Absolutely. A pioneer of comparative law that was really comparative law and society and comparative legal culture. And not just comparing this code sectionwith that code section. I admired him and his work very much. He had a long life. He lived to be 95 and he was teaching his last seminar just before he died. He had gone into a new field, art and the law, which he was very instrumental in shaping. He was an important person. Not always appreciated by the way, though I certainly appreciated him. 12 John Henry Merryman ‘The Authority of Authority: What the California Supreme Court Cited in 1950’, Stanford Law Review6/4 (1954), 613–73. 13 John Henry Merryman, ‘Comparative Law and Social Change: On the Origins, Style, Decline & Revival of the Law and Development Movement’, American Journal of Comparative Law25/3 (1977), 457. 114 So you can say that he pioneered comparative law? He had a long life. So did I. I want to talk about a couple of your scholarly works, and let’s start with your History of American Law, published in 1973, which is a classic of American legal history, where you describe American law as ‘a mirror of society’. Would you elaborate on that metaphor?