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War and the Law of Nations
A General History


  • Date Published: April 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521729628


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About the Authors
  • Tracing war as a legal concept from Roman times through to the twentieth century, Stephen Neff reveals its various roles as a law-enforcement operation, duel between states and a "crime against the peace." He also considers the post World War II definition of war as an international law-enforcement mechanism under U.N. auspices. Although unsuccessful, this attempt did help transform war into a humanitarian, rather than a policy problem. This book interests historians, students of international relations and international lawyers.

    • First comprehensive overview of the history of war from the standpoint of international law
    • Sheds important historical perspective on modern issues such as self-defence, humanitarian intervention, the Cold War, civil wars and 'war' against non-state entities such as terrorism
    • ASIL 2007 prize winner
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    • 2007 ASIL book prize winner (Honorable Mention)

    Reviews & endorsements

    "The scope of Neff's project is majestic, and his scholarly rigor in marshalling evidence on the subject of war from antiquity to today's war on terrorism is impressive. The book is written in an engaging manner likely to appeal to both law of war experts and generalists alike. Neff does not oversimplify, however, and handles even complex legal questions in a sophisticated and nuanced manner. He accordingly makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the phenomenon of war."
    -- Allen S. Weiner, Stanford Law School The American Journal of International Law

    "The prize winning book has just been reissued in a paper edition....offered valuable insights into the function of declarations of war, into why states go to war, and into the concepts of neutrality, reprisal, and self-defense....Neff provides a much deeper analysis of the logic of ideas about war than either Kennedy in his short essay (Kennedy 2006) or Bobbitt in his encyclopedic tome (Bobbitt 2002). This book is highly recommended to those interested in either history of ideas, or international law."
    --Walter J. Kendall, III, John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, The Law and Politics Book Review

    "...thorough and interesting commentary, analyses, and examples....arguments and commentary are very convincing,... style clear, straightforward and readable. This book should be required reading for all students of international law, and should be high on the reading list of all others who are interested in international law generally, including academics, legal advisors to governments, and practitioners of public international law.

    Stephen Neff has done a great service to public international law by writing what is perhaps the only modern and certainly the most comprehensive analysis of the history of the law of war in the context of international law. It should become and belong among the "classics" of international legal literature.
    --James G. Apple, Co-Editor, International Judicial Monitor and President, International Judicial Academy

    "...This particular addition to the literature provides a succinct but authoritative account of the history of war...One should consider this book a "must read," for those seeking legal guidance regarding the Laws of War, GITMO, and various "adventures" arising since 9-11...This reader-friendly account fills a gap in a somewhat neglected arena. It vividly summarizes the historical interplay between war and the international limitations on its execution."
    --ASIL UN21 Interest Group Newsletter [ISSUE #39: May 2009]

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521729628
    • length: 456 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Table of cases
    Table of treaties
    Part I. War as Law Enforcement (to 1600):
    1. Ares and Athena
    2. Loving enemies and hating sin
    Part II. New Forces Stirring (1600–1815):
    3. War in due form
    4. Dissension in the ranks
    Part III. War as State Policy (1815–1919):
    5. Collisions of naked interest
    6. Tame and half-hearted war: intervention, reprisal and necessity
    7. Civil strife
    Part IV. Just Wars Reborn (1919– ):
    8. Regulating war
    9. A farewell to war?
    10. New fields of battle

  • Author

    Stephen C. Neff, University of Edinburgh
    Reader in Public International Law, School of Law at the University of Edinburgh.

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