Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review of Whitman's _The Verdict of Battle_

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting review of James Q. Whitman's The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War.

(Since the CHE is hiding most of this review I'll summarize it here.) The upshot of the book seems to be that even during the middle ages, war was fought using definite rules. Meaning, that war had norms, and the norms were followed. This kept wars somewhat "civil" and allowed for a relatively quick way of resolving disputes, usually involving land. ("Civil" here means that wars did not drag on for months or years.) It was only after republicanism replaced monarchy that battles were not simply fought to gain rights to territory, but were there to change the government of (or perhaps annihilate, if change was not possible) the other side. Their desire to improve the life of the other country led to wars that were far more arduous than ever before. 

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