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From the Publisher
"The book begins with a simple truth: throughout the ages, soldiers have been fortunate to be taken prisoner when the enemy's blood is up. Using examples from ancient to modern wars, Krammer argues that it is much easier and far more convenient to kill surrendered soldiers rather than take the trouble and bear the expense of capture….While this book is not a comprehensive history of the POW experience, it is a first of its kind in terms of simplicity of approach, sequence of topics, historical frankness, and brutal honesty….Arnold Krammer has created something really significant for a master scholar: a primer, a place to start for anyone wanting to seriously examine and probe the complexity of captivity through the ages. Without a doubt, this book is a solid and welcome contribution to the field of historical POW studies."
The Journal of Military History
"What to do with captured enemies in wartime is an ancient problem. Solutions vary with the prevailing mores and concepts of warfare. Since 2001, the US has conducted an ill-defined war on terrorism against enemies that allegedly do not qualify as soldiers under international law and therefore may be denied protection as prisoners of war (POWs). Krammer, a master of POW history, addresses fluctuating ways captors have treated war captives since earliest historical times. He discusses cases of prisoner parole, exchange, ransom, incarceration, enslavement, torture, religious sacrifice, and mass murder, and traces the irregular expansion of protection for POWs since Hugo Grotius defined the issue in terms of natural law in 1625. Krammer supports his narrative with extensive excerpts from military regulations and international agreements that clarified the status and rights of POWs during the 19th and 20th centuries. He refers particularly to Hague conferences of 1899 and 1907 and Geneva conventions of 1929 and 1949. Although terrorism is not new, Krammer seems to agree that recent styles of irregular conflict have introduced new conditions that reduce the effectiveness of international law in protecting POWs. Bibliography includes Internet references. Recommended. All levels/libraries."