This is a brilliant book for all the wrong reasons.

Rather like the surviving knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Perry was a leftover from a bygone era. The love of his life was special pleading – a way of pleading a case that was notoriously difficult to pull off. Special pleading went the way of all flesh- thanks heavens for David Dudley Field in the U.S. and his band of loyal supporters on this side of the pond –but in 1897 Perry was still teaching the now abolished rules to his students on the basis that the new style of pleading represented the end of civilisation as he knew it and everyone would be better off if only they would turn the clock back. This gratifyingly conservative attitude – imagine what his students were thinking – produced what I think has to be a true classic of utterly misplaced effort.

The introduction is brilliantly wrong-headed, and sure to raise a smile, for Perry truly carried a torch for special pleading. The rest of the book is for anoraks only I fear. But it is a sure cure for insomnia.

I have a paperback copy of Perry’s masterwork -it has been reprinted – but you can get this book electronically via the wonderful Internet Archive.

Read the Introduction for its exuberance.