Law and War: An American Story

Law and War: An American Story

Law and War: An American Story

Law and War: An American Story

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

When I was twelve, the Oregon Bar Association held a special memorial session in the chambers of the U.S. District Court of Oregon to honor my recently deceased great-grandfather, Robert Maguire. I had never been to a funeral or a trial, and the stark wood-paneled chambers and the somber demeanor of the old men in their black robes filled me with equal parts fascination and fear. After gaveling the court into session, the judge announced “the presence in the courtroom of the following members of Mr. Maguire’s family.” I grew increasingly nervous as he ran down the list: “Mrs. Robert F. Maguire; Robert F. Maguire Jr.”—I winced, waiting for my name—“Peter Maguire, a great-grandson; Robert F. Maguire III, grandson …” Just as my breath began to return, the door of the judge’s chambers opened slowly and a young woman entered pushing a wheelchair, in which sat a very haunting old man.

For a brief moment my young mind began to reel. Was this the corpse of my great-grandfather? My father, recognizing the ten-thousand-yard stare, reassured me that the man in the wheelchair was former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, not my great-grandfather. He added . . .

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