This is a terrific book. Its main subject is the Lieber Code, promulgated by Abraham Lincoln as General Orders No. 100 which, while approved on April 24, 1863, was released in May of that year. The author, John Fabian Witt, puts the Lieber Code in its historical perspective, discussing the evolution of the Laws of War and their impact on American wars. He also discusses how the Laws of War were used from the very beginning of the Civil War to shape Federal actions and policy. There is a lengthy discussion of Francis Lieber and how he developed the code, and its effect on the Civil War. There is a fascinating discussion of how it played into Emancipation and how it was used in Reconstruction and the Indian Wars. It ends with a discussion of how the laws of war evolved through the Spanish-American War. Meticulously and deeply researched, the book is packed with facts, and I learned a lot from it. Witt writes in a highly readable style, even when dealing with some arcane legal concepts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I highly recommend it.
Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History