Critics’ Reviews

“This book is, today, the most comprehensive and accurate analysis of the often-misrepresented Caroline incident. It is a scrupulously researched recounting of the incident using a multi-disciplinary approach of history, international law, political science, and international relations. The attack upon the Caroline became the big bang moment in international law that created, as insightfully described by Forcese, the meme for how states use military force in anticipatory self-defence. He advances several important observations, including that the Caroline could be viewed as the archetypal example of a state using military force against non-state actors on the territory of another state that is unwilling or unable to stop unlawful activities of the non-state actors. This example persists today and directly informs the passionate debates about the use of military force against non-state actors, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda. The book will quickly become a leading text on the topic. It will be of significant value to students, teachers, practitioners, and decision-makers. Moreover, it is simply a captivatingly good read about some of the rumbustious early times in Canada-US military, political, and legal history.”
Blaise Cathcart, QC, Major-General (Retired), Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces (2010–2017)
“Craig Forcese’s book on the Caroline affair is a tour de force. With the insight of a legal scholar, the instinct of a detective, and the thoroughness of a historian, he has traced the origins of a core principle in international law, starting with the attack in 1837 on the ship for which that principle is named. His highly readable account creates a rich context in which we can better understand the influence of the Caroline on the legal doctrine of self-defence as a justification (or a pretext) for war. Basing his argument on what really happened, he separates fact from fiction to contend that the Caroline principle has sometimes been put to broader use than its original purpose would justify.”
Allan Rock, PC, Minister of Justice of Canada (1993–1997); Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations (2003–2006)
“This is an excellent piece of scholarship. The story of the raid on the Caroline is exhaustively researched and beautifully told. Having taught about the incident for decades, and read all the standard academic articles, I appreciate how very much of a contribution this book will make.”
Professor Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia
“Destroying the Caroline is a thorough historical and legal discussion of an important precedent in modern international law. Forcese’s work shows that state-level interpretations of the concept of self-defence have evolved over time, but in the end, the goals remain the same. The latter part of the book highlights contemporary debates about pre-emption, imminence, unwilling or unable standards, and the personalities involved. The book should appeal to students, teachers, practitioners, and decision-makers.”
Donata Krakowski-White, Judges’ Librarian, Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Justice, Halifax, Canadian Law Library Review (2019) 44:2
“As someone who has undertaken a major (although nowhere near this major) research project on the Caroline in the past – digging into original documents from the time and trying to make sense of the legal context that shaped and embedded elements of Webster’s famous formula in the customary international law that we continue to apply and contest today – it was a real pleasure to read Destroying the Caroline. I thought, unjustifiably self-importantly, that I ‘knew’ the Caroline, more so even than most scholars in the field. Forcese’s book makes it clear that I did not, or, at least, not well enough. My misunderstandings and gaps in knowledge about the incident were entertainingly revealed to me in the pages of this book. [ . . . ] Destroying the Caroline is now one of the leading works on the Caroline incident, and will be an invaluable resource for anyone engaging with it (or its legacy) going forward.”
James A. Green, University of Reading, Reading, UK, Journal on the Use of Force and International Law
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