By Dan Wade
The Yale Law Library sponsored two book talks for books published by Yale faculty dealing with Foreign and International Law.
Monday night’s talk, held at the Yale Book Store and filmed by C-Span, featured Oona Hathaway, a professor of International Law, and Scott Shapiro, a professor of Jurisprudence who teaches a course in Transnational Law. The pair were quite entertaining in discussing their new history of international law and, particularly, the law of war: The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). The work is not a sequential history, but rather takes historical vignettes to show how the law, especially the law of war, has evolved. Their style is witty and they tell many excellent stories; it is almost the page-turner that Philippe Sands’ East West Street is. (Did you see the review of East West Street in the most current issue of AJIL, 111:2, April 2017?) The Internationalists is fun to read and yet has a thesis about how to understand international law. It begins with the 16th century and Grotius, who is deemed to formulate the law of the Old World Order, i.e. “Might Makes Right”; sees the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 (though, the authors prefer calling it the the Paris Peace Pact because Secretary of State Frank Kellogg was so Trump-esque), where the nations of the world sat down and agreed to renounce wars as an instrument of national policy and effectively created a New World Order; and concludes with an assessment of the contemporary scene. I’ll let the law professors debate the validity of their interpretation, but I can certainly recommend the book at one level as a wonderful, “light” read.
I have not yet had the chance to read the book that featured in Wednesday’s book talk: James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017). Jim is a professor of Legal History and Comparative Law at Yale. His thesis is that the Nazis based their race laws, the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, on American laws rising out of Jim Crow and state miscegenation laws. This is certainly an intriguing idea!