La Liberte des Mers. Le Blocus de l'Allemagne. La Guerre Sous-Marine

La Liberte des Mers. Le Blocus de l'Allemagne. La Guerre Sous-Marine

Bibliographic Details

Paris: A. Pedone. 1917

Book Review

Though the exact date is not mentioned, this book seems to have been written but a few weeks prior to the entry of the United States into the great European conflict. One would conclude from the author's. introduction that his purpose was to discuss the “freedom of the seas,” in order to determine how far the doctrine in its heretofore generally accepted significance does or does not conform to the sense in which it has been employed in Germany by Bethmann-Hollweg and others. But the author, while sensing a divergence, does not greatly enlighten us upon its nature or probable causes.

Introduction to La Liberte des Mers. Le Blocus de l'Allemagne. La Guerre Sous-Marine

He leads us through a brief history of attempted preemptions of parts of the seas in past times, in peace and war, and discusses the developments of the rules of blockade and contraband down to and including the Second Hague Conference and the Declaration of London. He then outlines chronologically the steps taken in the present war for the blockade of the enemy by the various belligerents and discusses in the light of previously accepted international law the British Orders in Council and the proclamations of the German Government.

Context of La Liberte des Mers. Le Blocus de l'Allemagne. La Guerre Sous-Marine

His conclusions condemn the German submarine warfare conducted against neutrals and belligerents alike as simple piracy. This leads him to consider the official attitude of the United States, the one powerful neutral yet remaining at the time. He condemns the successive notes of President Wilson, however laudable in motive, upon the sinking of the Lusitania and the Sussex, because based too generally upon the undefined principles of justice and humanity rather than upon the precise texts and accepted rules of international law.

Thesis Statement

The purely legal questions are discussed with clarity and understanding, but unfortunately the author leads his argument into a general indictment against the United States for its failure to participate on the side of the Allies. This part of the book is considerably marred by some glaring inaccuracies. One wonders, for example, where the author could have derived the information that among 18,000 newspapers and periodicals published annually in the United States, about one-third are published in the German language. Perhaps if he had waited a few weeks longer, his divagations upon “Le peuple am6ricain” (p. 98) might have been more generous.

Book Review Details

This legal book review was published in:

The American Journal of International Law,Vol. 11, No. 4 (Oct., 1917), pp. 899-900

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