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John Fabian Witt

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Books on fishing, wartime conduct win Bancroft Prize for history

    NEW YORK — A history of fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and a close study of wartime conduct have been named winners of the prestigious Bancroft Prize.Columbia University announced Monday that the winners were W. Jeffrey Bolster’s “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail” and John Fabian Witt’s “Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History.” Each author will receive $10,000 for one of the most coveted awards among historians....Related LinksRobin Lindley: Interview with John Fabian Witt on "Lincoln's Code"

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Crafting the Rules for Hell

    Robin Lindley

    Francis Lieber, circa 1865. Credit: Library of Congress.American military and political leaders since the Revolutionary War have grappled with the problem of whether conduct in the hellish horror and chaos of war can be regulated by law.Before the Civil War, American troops relied largely on Enlightenment customs of war that grew out of European conflicts, although rules were flexible or ignored depending on the particular commanders, whether military concerns outweighed the niceties of “civilized” war, and the character of the enemy -- whether an organized national military or a band of Indians or Mexican guerilla fighters.