Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Possible writing project

Right now I'm deep under water, what with the start of a new semester in which I'm teaching both my Tax Policy Colloquium (covering a bunch of new papers every year) and my first-ever Law and Literature seminar (with a novel or shorter work each week). Plus I have several works in progress that I need to get back to once I can, which will not be right away.

But as I think about down the road, I have a project in mind that I am wondering about - would it be of interest? - Is it publishable? - Would it attract interest in the field? - etcetera. It would be a book, but unlike all of my previous books a collection of essays, mostly but not all previously unpublished, that are linked thematically only at a broad level.

As background, some years ago I wrote a piece about Henry Simons, available here. And this past summer I wrote a piece about Stanley Surrey, available here. The latter hasn't appeared in print yet, but I've promised it to a volume of pieces about Surrey in the aftermath of the belated publication of his memoirs.

It occurred to me: What if I had a book of such pieces, about prominent 20th century American tax academics? Each piece would take whatever angle I thought was interesting with respect to that individual, as opposed to attempting biography or comprehensive review. For example, if I wrote about E.R.A. Seligman, the question that would interest me starting out is why on earth did he write that crazy American Economic Review piece / amicus brief in Eisner v. Macomber that led to the absurd result in that case? (This is not suggested muckraking - he was evidently a high-minded guy, but somehow he got onto this train, and I don't know if there's anything in his archives, if they exist, that would shed light on his intellectual process.)

Others I might write about include a couple of people I knew well - Walter Blum and David Bradford. Very possibly, William Andrews, whom I also knew decently well. Plus definitely Boris Bittker, and I'd think about whom else. But definitely not anyone in the Warren-Graetz generation or younger.

Obviously this would not be anything remotely approaching a book with mass market appeal. But maybe enough appeal within the biz to be worth doing? Would a university press consider publishing such a thing? I just don't know - offline feedback welcome!


Victor Thuronyi said...

Not sure, but if I were adding someone to the list of prominent tax academics of an earlier generation it would be Klaus Tipke. I did meet him. Of course, he is German rather than American, but his influence was great. Without doubt the greatest German tax law academic.

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