Cover: Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War, from Harvard University PressCover: Justice in Blue and Gray in HARDCOVER

Justice in Blue and Gray

A Legal History of the Civil War

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Product Details


$58.50 • £46.95 • €52.50

ISBN 9780674036024

Publication Date: 02/25/2010


360 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


[Neff] shows us how the legal events of [the Civil War] resulted in the formation of legal principles that today influence American and international legal systems. He brings its history into the 21st century with analyses of terms such as ‘combatants, military tribunals, detention of persons without due process, unlimited incarceration and habeas corpus.’ I frequently had to remind myself that I was reading about the war between the states—not the War on Terror… Neff has included so much in this impressive and useful work… What he has done for legal scholarship in showing the modern relevance of meaningful legal history is deserving of high praise, and of an enthusiastic recommendation for it to be read, especially in governmental houses of justice.—Philip Kemp, Times Higher Education

All of the participants in the American Civil War—Unionists, Confederates, generals, soldiers, civilians, and politicians—operated in a thicket of laws. Neff untangles the legal strands and makes them intelligible and fascinating. Included in his book are all the crucial topics: civil liberties, treatment of civilians, confiscation of property, pardons and amnesty, slavery and emancipation. Thorough yet succinct, Justice in Blue and Gray is the best book so far to bring together all the legal conflicts that shaped the Civil War.—Michael Vorenberg, Brown University

An essential book for understanding America’s bifurcated legal system in wartime—the criminal courts under an established jurisprudence and military commissions pursuant to the law of war. Indeed, many issues Neff examines—sovereignty, detention, civil liberties in wartime—are relevant today. This is an original and vital contribution to history and constitutional law that is also accessible to general readers. I unequivocally recommend it.—Frank J. Williams, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and founding chair of the Lincoln Forum

Awards & Accolades

  • 2010 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History, Langum Charitable Trust
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