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    Original Essays | September 21, 2015

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America's Captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Modern War Studies)


America's Captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Modern War Studies) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Notwithstanding the long shadows cast by Abu Ghraib and Guantnamo, the United States has been generally humane in the treatment of prisoners of war, reflecting a desire to both respect international law and provide the kind of treatment we would want for our own troops if captured. In this first comprehensive study of the subject in more than half a century, Paul Springer presents an in-depth look at American POW policy and practice from the Revolutionary War to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Springer contends that our nation's creation and application of POW policy has been repeatedly improvised and haphazard, due in part to our military's understandable focus on defeating its enemies on the field of battle, rather than on making arrangements for their detention. That focus, however, has set the conditions for the military's chronic failure to record and learn from both successful and unsuccessful POW practices in previous wars. He also observes that American POW policy since World War II has largely sought to outsource POW operations to allied forces in order to retain American personnel for frontline service—outsourcing that has led to recent scandals

Focusing on each major war in turn, Springer examines the lessons learned and forgotten by American military and political leaders regarding our nation's experience in dealing with foreign POWs. He highlights the indignities of the Civil War, the efforts of the United States and its World War I allies to devise an effective POW policy, the unequal treatment of Japanese prisoners compared with that of German and Italian prisoners during World War II, and the impact of the Geneva Convention on the handling of Korean and Vietnamese captives. In bringing his coverage up to the so-called War on Terror, he also marks the nation's clear departure from previous practice—American treatment of POWs, once deemed exemplary by the Red Cross after Operation Desert Storm, has become controversial throughout the world.

America's Captives provides a long-needed overarching framework for this important subject and makes a strong case that we should stop ignoring the lessons of the past and make the disposition of prisoners one of the standard components of our military education and training.

Table of Contents


Introduction: American POW Policy and Practice

1. Struggling into Existence: The American Revolution

2. The First Declared War: The War of 1812

3. Prisoners on Foreign Soil: The War against Mexico

4. Brother against Brother: The American Civil War

5. America Becomes a World Power, 1865-1919

6. America Becomes a Superpower: World War II

7. Containing Comunism: The Korean War

8. The Dominoes Begin to Fall: The Vietnam War

9. POW Policy in the Post-Cold War Era

Conclusion: The Future of American POW Policy




Product Details

Springer, Paul J.
University Press of Kansas
United States History, Military.
Prisoners of war -- United States -- History.
Military - General
Military - United States
Military-US Military General
Edition Description:
Modern War Studies
Series Volume:
Treatment of POWs fr
Publication Date:
9.30x6.58x.97 in. 1.25 lbs.

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Military » US Military » General

America's Captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Modern War Studies) New Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages University Press of Kansas - English 9780700617173 Reviews:
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