Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War

Carnahan, Burrus M.

Published by University Press of Kentucky
ISBN 10: 0813125693 / ISBN 13: 9780813125695
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Synopsis: In light of recent controversies and legal actions related to America's treatment of enemy prisoners in the Middle East and Guantánamo Bay, the regulation of government during wartime has become a volatile issue on the global scene. By today's standards, Lincoln's adherence to the laws of war could be considered questionable, and his critics, past and present, have not hesitated to charge that he was a war criminal. In Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War, Burrus M. Carnahan conducts an extensive analysis of Lincoln's leadership throughout the Civil War as he struggled to balance his own humanity against the demands of his generals. Carnahan specifically scrutinizes Lincoln's conduct toward Southerners in light of the international legal standards of his time as the president wrestled with issues that included bombardment of cities, collateral damage to civilians, seizure and destruction of property, forced relocation, and the slaughter of hostages. Carnahan investigates a wide range of historical materials from accounts of the Dahlgren raid to the voices of Southern civilians who bore the brunt of extensive wartime destruction. Through analysis of both historic and modern standards of behavior in times of war, a sobering yet sympathetic portrait of one of America's most revered presidents emerges.

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In light of recent controversies related to the treatment of enemy prisoners in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Guantánamo Bay, the regulation of government actions in wartime has become a hot-button global issue. By today's standards, Lincoln's adherence to the laws of war could be considered questionable, and his critics, past and present, have not hesitated to charge him as a war criminal. His apologists, however, defend his actions as reasonable and humane. Is it possible that Lincoln could be condemned as a war criminal based on the accepted standards and customs of warfare of his time?

Noted scholar Burrus M. Carnahan resolves this question in Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War, examining the president's reactions to the treatment and mistreatment of Southern civilians by Union forces. This stylishly written work departs from previous studies by framing the issue from Lincoln's perspective. Carnahan's thorough examination of the president's war policies offers new insights regarding his wartime behavior and his character.

Developing an intimate portrait of the American president, Carnahan allows other questions to surface. What information was available to Lincoln, when did he receive it, and how did he react to the knowledge? Carnahan's perceptive analysis of critical issues such as the bombardment of cities, collateral damage to civilians, and the execution of hostages places Lincoln's decisions in their proper context. Carnahan also investigates a wide range of historical materials, from accounts of the Dahlgren raid to the voices of Southern civilians who bore the brunt of extensive wartime destruction.

Instead of issuing the late president a verdict of guilty or not guilty, Carnahan carefully considers the differences in historical and modern standards of war. Lincoln on Trial documents President Lincoln's policies toward Southerners, offering readers a unique glimpse of nineteenth-century warfare as well as the greatest president.

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Title: Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the...
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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