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A Scrap of Paper

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Table of Contents

1. Prologue: What We Have Forgotten 2. Belgian Neutrality 3 The "Belgian Atrocities" and the Laws of War on Land 4. Occupation and the Treatment of Enemy Civilians 5. Great Britain and the Blockade 6. Breaking and Making International Law: The Blockade, 1915-1918 7. Germany and New Weapons: Submarines, Zeppelins, Poison Gas, Flamethrowers 8. Unrestricted Submarine Warfare 9. Reprisals: Prisoners of War and Allied Aerial Bombardment 10. Conclusion Bibliography Index

About the Author

Isabel V. Hull is John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell University. She is the author of A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law during the Great War, Absolute Destruction, and Sexuality, State and Civil Society in Germany, 1700-1815, all from Cornell.


"A Scrap of Paper is a strong demonstration of the worth of international law and the laws of war in particular, and vindicates Ms. Hull's standing as one of our greatest historians of modern European politics."-Samuel Moyn, The Wall Street Journal (June 6, 2014) "Cornell University history professor Isabel V. Hull gives a thorough and thoughtful investigation into one of the war's trigger points, the legal issues surrounding Germany's invasion of Belgium. The assault widened the war by drawing in Britain, committed by treaty to protecting Belgian neutrality. Germany was a signatory to that same treaty, but its army command believed that "military necessity" trumped international agreements and, as Hull finds, Germany's military seldom coordinated its planning with the country's civilian leaders. A Scrap of Paper is a luminous account of war and international law with implications for recent and ongoing world conflicts."-David Luhrssen,Shepherd Express (August 2014) "A Scrap of Paper should be required reading for scholars of World War I and of the laws of war. It raises outstanding questions, such as why World War I is the exception to the rule that major wars tend to be followed by new laws of war. It also should have a wide readership among international relations scholars."-Tanisha M. Fazal, Political Science Quarterly (Winter 2014-2015) "[A Scrap of Paper]is an impressive analysis, by a remarkable historian, of specific international laws (both customary and treaty-based) that were historically regarded as important by the protagonists at the outset of World War I, the Great War of 1914 -18. The book's author, Isabel Hull, a professor of history at Cornell University, contends that breaches of these rules were at the heart of the perceived need to have recourse to war...This splendid publication does not in any general sense determine where responsibility lay for World War I.Many books have recently addressed this topic. But that is not the author's intention. Rather she intends-and totally succeeds-to show that World War I cannot be understood without an appreciation of where the Great Powers stood on the momentous international law issues of the day. Thus she reveals through prodigious scholarship, eschewing the broad sweep and examining in this fashion every relevant international law controversy before and during the war. And through this indirect means (ideally with the help of recently written important histories of World War I), the reader will also have a better sense of Germany's relentless advance towards hegemony. And the reader whose field is international law will have seen deployed in these pages an understanding of various possible interpretations of critical elements of law. Ideas relating to military necessity, self-defense, neutrality, reprisals, 'new weapons,' and constraints in submarine warfare are unfolded here as never before because the historical context in which they were formulated and invoked is so marvelously explained. A Scrap of Paper is an outstanding book and a work of exceptional scholarship."-Rosalyn Higgins,American Journal of International Law(July 2015) "This book will be of interest to serious students of World War I. It explores important, long-forgotten decision making that influenced some of the best known and far-reaching operations in military history. A Scrap of Paper is also a source of unusual case studies for practitioners who need to understand how diplomacy, operational design, and strategic communications shape, and are shaped, by international law. This book illuminates challenges facing practitioners today as much as those facing their predecessors a century ago."-Michael H. Hoffman, Military Review (July-August 2015) "This book should not get lost in the rather large volume of new studies published as we mark the centennial of the First World War. It makes a distinct contribution not only to the bast hisoriography of the war, but also to the developing body of literature on the intersection of law and international conflict."-Peter Price,Canadian Military History (23, November 2015) "Over the last decade, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the laws of armed conflict have become matters of popular and public interest. Despite the growth of international humanitarian law, much of the law with which we still operate dates from the fifteen years just before the First World War and was applied within it. A Scrap of Paper is the first book to pay sustained attention to the subject of international law in the First World War since 1920. It is not only a timely book, it is an overdue one, and its impact on the study of the war will be important and game-changing. Isabel V. Hull has the linguistic range and scholarly tools to tackle the subject in the truly comparative fashion that its complexity demands."-Sir Hew Strachan, All Souls College, University of Oxford, author of The First World War: To Arms "Isabel V. Hull's passionate narrative of the role of international law in the decision-making processes in Berlin and London during the First World War opens a strikingly original perspective on the consciousness of the wartime actors. This was a war waged also by legal arguments. In the end, the inability and unwillingness of Imperial Germany to defend its case in legal terms crucially undermined its war effort. This is not only superb history, but also the most powerful defense of the role of law in international crisis that I have read, and as such is of obvious contemporary relevance."-Martti Koskenniemi, Academy Professor, University of Helsinki, author of The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960

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