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Lincoln's code : the laws of war in American history
John Fabian Witt
Adult Nonfiction KF7210 .W58 2012

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Summary: Pulitzer Prize Finalist Bancroft Prize Winner ABA Silver Gavel Award Winner A New York Times Notable Book of the Year In the closing days of 1862, just three weeks before Emancipation, the administration of Abraham Lincoln commissioned a code setting forth the laws of war for US armies. It announced standards of conduct in wartime-concerning torture, prisoners of war, civilians, spies, and slaves-that shaped the course of the Civil War. By the twentieth century, Lincoln's code would be incorporated into the Geneva Conventions and form the basis of a new international law of war. In this deeply original book, John Fabian Witt tells the fascinating history of the laws of war and its eminent cast of characters-Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Lincoln-as they crafted the articles that would change the course of world history. Witt's engrossing exploration of the dilemmas at the heart of the laws of war is a prehistory of our own era. Lincoln's Code reveals that the heated controversies of twenty-first-century warfare have roots going back to the beginnings of American history. It is a compelling story of ideals under pressure and a landmark contribution to our understanding of the American experience.


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