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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

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Romantics at War

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George P. FletcherCardozo Professor of Jurisprudence, Columbia University, USA

ISBN13: 9780691006512
ISBN: 0691006512
Published: January 2004
Publisher: University Presses of California, Columbia and Princeton
Format: Hardback
Price: £32.95

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America is at war with terrorism. Terrorists must be brought to justice.;We hear these phrases together so often that we rarely pause to reflect on the dramatic differences between the demands of war and the demands of justice, differences so deep that the pursuit of one often comes at the expense of the other. In this text, George Fletcher brings much-needed clarity to the still unfolding debates about how to pursue war and justice in the age of terrorism. He also combines insights from history, philosophy, literature and law to place these debates in a cultural context. He seeks to explain why Americans - for so many years cynical about war - have recently found war so appealing. He finds the answer in a revival of Romanticism, a growing desire in the post-Vietnam era to identify with grand causes and to put nations at the centre of ideas about glory and guilt.;Fletcher opens with unsettling questions about the nature of terrorism, war and justice, showing how dangerously slippery the concepts can be. He argues that those sympathetic to war are heirs to the ideals of Byron, Fichte and other Romantics in their belief that nations - not just individuals - must uphold honour and be held accountable for crimes. Fletcher writes that ideas about collective glory and guilt are far more plausible and widespread than liberal individualists typically recognize. However, as he traces the implications of the Romantic mindset for debates about war crimes, treason, military tribunals and genocide, he also shows that losing oneself in a grand cause can all too easily lead to moral catastrophe.

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