Book Review

Document Type

Book Review


Law and History Review





The vast majority of criminal cases result in guilty pleas, rather than jury verdicts— a situation that has existed since the nineteenth century. Mike McConville and Chester L. Mirsky trace the rise of plea bargaining in New York City to the mid-1800s and challenge several historical explanations for this transformation of the criminal process. They present an interesting critique of existing analyses and skillfully combine empirical study of case data with discussion of the social and political context in which nineteenth-century legal actors developed their strategies. Among the book’s minor flaws is the overuse of very long quotations from the case files. A few well-chosen examples would have added narrative interest without distracting from the argument. Nevertheless, McConville and Mirsky have produced a significant work.