Document Type

Book Review


37 Yale Law Journal 135 (1927)


Perhaps it is unnecessary to do more than notice the appearance of a new edition of a book which before 1914 had earned for itself so high a reputation as that of Oppenheim. So much has happened since 1914 that a rather complete revision of many of the topics covered was justified, otherwise a 1926 edition would be misleading. The splendid contributions made by Dr. McNair in periodicals might have justified the hope of such thorough revision. The expectation is not met. Although Oppenheim's and McNair's material is to some extent thrown together indistinguishably, apart from certain paragraphs of Dr. McNair cited in the Preface, many of the pre-war statements appear without addenda or criticism, leading possibly to the conclusion that nothing has occurred with respect to these topics justifying comment. See, e.g. "articles conditionally contraband" (pp. 636 ff.). While the reviewer is not among those who believe that belligerent violations of law alter the law, and is of the opinion that the pre-war rules of maritime warfare have with minor exceptions, not experienced any lawful change, still it is surprising to find little or no mention of the numerous extensions and distortions of established rules which Aligerents sought, with some actual though not legally recognized success, to impose upon neutrals. The ostensible uncertainty into which the law has been placed by preferring to regard violations as "modifications" or "growth" can lead to no happy results in international relations. A new Declaration of London, that will obtain ratification, is much needed. Many of the new paragraphs of Dr. McNair have material of value. Limitations of space forbid extended comment. On the other hand, section 269a, seeking to point out an alleged distinction between indemnities and reparations is positively misleading. Some propagandist invented the distinction, until now it finds its way' into standard text-books. One is reminded of Mr. Mencken's fantasy as to the origin of bathtubs. Mr. Vizetelly, Editor of the Literary Digest, troubled by a statement of the editor of the Wall Street Journal that there was a well-known distinction in international law between "reparations" and "indemnities" submitted the question to John Bassett Moore. With his usual perspicacity and humor, Judge Moore scouted the idea in a letter published in the Literary Digest, June 27, 1925, at 63.

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