In This Review

Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline and the Law of War
Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline and the Law of War
By Mark J. Osiel
Transaction Publishers, 1999, 398 pp

A short review cannot really do justice to this careful blend of law, moral philosophy, and military history. Why do soldiers commit atrocities? How can they be prevented from doing so? The questions framing the book are at some level unanswerable, but Osiel's thoughtfulness in grappling with this issue is impressive. So too is his sympathetic effort to get inside the mindset of professional soldiers, which leads him to rely (despite his legal background) more on the cultivation of sound judgment than on rules, principles, and orders. An important addition to the bookshelf of works on the law of war.