Cover image for Law and war : an American story
Law and war : an American story
Maguire, Peter (Peter H.)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 446 pages, 7 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
K5301 .M34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When does the waging of war become a criminal act? And who is in a position to judge? Ranging from the American Indian wars to the Civil War to World War I, and culminating with the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials following the Second World War, Peter Maguire provides much-needed historical perspective on the crucial and ever more urgent issues of war and justice. His examples illustrate the gradations of political justice and the perpetual redefinition of war crimes across three continents and more than a century of American foreign policy.

Author Notes

Peter Maguire, the great-grandson of a Nuremberg jurist, studied the laws of war under Nuremberg prosecutor Telford Taylor at Columbia University, where he received his doctorate in history in 1994. He has taught the law and theory of war at Columbia University and Bard College. He was the historical advisor for the documentary "Nuremberg: A Courtroom Drama" and has written on the subject for New York Newsday, The Independent, and other publications

Reviews 1

Choice Review

International criminal law has become a subject of intense interest in the past decade, with the Balkan wars drawing the attention of the United Nations and other organizations. Maguire offers a "must read" book for all those interested in international criminal law, war crimes, and war crime trials. Although the author discusses the WW I Leipzig trials and the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of the notorious war criminals of that era, his focus is on those lesser-known trials of German and Japanese offenders that occurred up until the early 1950s. Maguire pays particular attention to the so-called "lesser" Nuremberg trials of German industrialists, bureaucrats, and diplomats, which captured the attention of the American tribunals in post-WW II Germany up until the establishment of the West German state. The author reveals the dichotomy between what he calls "punitive political justice" and the concept of "strategic legalism," wherein certain Axis and Japanese war criminals were given more lenient sentences as a result of the geopolitical shift of the emerging "Cold War" with Soviet Russia. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. C. Watkins Jr. University of Alabama

Table of Contents

1 Law and War: An American Story
2 The Changing Rules of War and Peace
3 The American War Crimes Program
4 Shifting Priorities
5 Nuremberg: A Cold War Conflict of Interest
6 The War Criminals and the Restoration of West German Sovereignty