Since the rise of the nation-state, law has been territorial, circumscribed by the sovereign boundaries of the state. But its geographic scope has always been contested -- and today, in controversies over Guantánamo and secret prisons, debates rage over the reach of U.S. law beyond the water's edge. Raustiala has written a masterful account of the United States' centuries-long legal and political struggle over extraterritoriality. He shows how throughout the modern age, even as Westphalian norms of legal sovereignty spread, European great powers were extending their laws to protect their own overseas citizens and create distinct legal categories for different parts of their empires. From these distinctions, Raustiala argues, "we can trace, albeit unevenly, a route to the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay." The book follows the many waves of debate over territory and law from the American Revolution to the post-World War II decades, when rapid economic growth and growing interdependence forced a retreat from strict interpretations of territoriality. More recently, the "war on terror" has triggered an even more contentious struggle between legal ideals and national security imperatives. Raustiala wonderfully illuminates the history and politics behind these controversies.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.
More Reviews on Political and Legal From This Issue