From the Editor: This is the beginning of an annotated bibliography of works covering areas of concern addressed by the Geneva Conventions. At the present time I have books dealing with the torture issue. As time allows, I will include other areas. If you have suggestions for works that should be included here, please send them to me using our Contact
page. Some books shown below include links to Global-Find-A-Book, which is an Internet service company I own and manage. Global-Find-A-Book provides, for a given book, purchase links to online bookstores around the world, so that people can save on postage by buying a book from a bookseller in or near their own country.
Texts and Introductions
The Geneva Convention: The Hidden Origins of the Red Cross By Angela Bennett
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This is the story of how two unknown young men who loathed each other founded the Red Cross, an organisation that has done more for mankind than any other. Why did the crowned heads of sixteen states meet in Geneva in 1864, on the invitation of these virtual nobodies, to sign a world-changing convention?
Drawing on confidential papers and private documents, and including a ‘day in the life’ piece on the Head of Operations, Near East, for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Angela Bennett gives us the full story of the Convention. She reveals the frustrations and complications that nearly destroyed it in the early years, the bitter antagonism between the brilliant administrator Moynier and the flamboyant Dunant, and probes the bank scandal for which Dunant was convicted.
About the Author: Angela Bennett was born in London, educated at Roedean and managed to bluff her way into advertising without any degrees, diplomas or experience. Becoming a Lady through her second marriage, she now lives near Geneva in a fairytale castle. She became interested in the Geneva Convention while working for the Red Cross and translated the official history of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Borch, Fred L., and Solis, Gary. Geneva Conventions [of 1949]. Kaplan Publishing (January 5, 2010).
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In 1859, Henry Dunant, a Swiss citizen, witnessed the horrific aftermath of the Battle of Solferino, in which thousands of wounded soldiers lay abandoned, dying in excruciating pain. Four years later, in 1863, he convened an international conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to form a medical relief organization for assisting the wounded during wartime and protecting medical relief personnel. This was the first Geneva Convention and the birth of the International Red Cross.
Since then, after major global conflicts in which the nature and conduct of wars have evolved, there have been three additonal Geneva Conventions. The latest was held in 1949 just after the end of World War II. Taken together, the Conventions set the standards for international law and humanitarian concerns regarding the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. Nearly 200 nations, virtually every state in the world, have signed and accepted these as the code of conduct.
Until now, the Conventions have only been available to the public online, with no published book on the market. With an introduction by Gary Solis, and explanatory notes and annotations throughout, this edition will be an essential guide for anyone interested in the conduct of wars as well as the many controversies swirling around Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
Human Rights in an age of Torture
Rejali, Darius. Torture and Democracy.
Princeton University Press (June 8, 2009). ISBN-10: 0691143331, ISBN-13: 978-0691143330. Find this book around the world at Global-Find-A-Book
This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world’s leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe.
As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he reaches startling conclusions. As the twentieth century progressed, he argues, democracies not only tortured, but set the international pace for torture. Dictatorships may have tortured more, and more indiscriminately, but the United States, Britain, and France pioneered and exported techniques that have become the lingua franca of modern torture: methods that leave no marks. Under the watchful eyes of reporters and human rights activists, low-level authorities in the world’s oldest democracies were the first to learn that to scar a victim was to advertise iniquity and invite scandal.
Long before the CIA even existed, police and soldiers turned instead to ‘clean’ techniques, such as torture by electricity, ice, water, noise, drugs, and stress positions. As democracy and human rights spread after World War II, so too did these methods. Rejali makes this troubling case in fluid, arresting prose and on the basis of unprecedented research – conducted in multiple languages and on several continents – begun years before most of us had ever heard of Osama bin Laden or Abu Ghraib. The author of a major study of Iranian torture, Rejali also tackles the controversial question of whether torture really works, answering the new apologists for torture point by point. A brave and disturbing book, this is the benchmark against which all future studies of modern torture will be measured.
Greenberg, Karen J., and Dratel, Joshua L., Editors. The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. Cambridge University Press (January 26, 2005) ISBN-10: 0521853249 ISBN-13: 978-0521853248 Global-Find-A-Book
[from the publisher] The Torture Papers document the so-called ‘torture memos’ and reports which US government officials wrote to prepare the way for, and to document, coercive interrogation and torture in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib. These documents present for the first time a compilation of materials that prior to publication have existed only piecemeal in the public domain. The Bush Administration, concerned about the legality of harsh interrogation techniques, understood the need to establish a legally viable argument to justify such procedures. The memos and reports document the systematic attempt of the US Government to prepare the way for torture techniques and coercive interrogation practices, forbidden under international law, with the express intent of evading legal punishment in the aftermath of any discovery of these practices and policies.
“The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib thoroughly documents repeated and shocking perversions of justice. The torture of prisoners became standard practice as the internationally accepted tenets of the Geneva Convention were bypassed and ignored. This is not a collection of complex legalese but pages where a clear episodic story unfolds free of bias and spin. The documents and their authors speak for themselves; key individuals approved torture as a coercive interrogation technique while others, namely Secretary of State Colin Powell, strongly opposed it. This is required reading for everyone concerned with fairness, justice, and difficult choices made under the pressures of our post 9/11 world.” -Nadine Strossen, President, American Civil Liberties Union
“The Torture Papers may well be the most important and damning set of documents exposing U.S. government lawlessness ever published. Each page tells the story of U.S. leaders consciously willing to ignore the fundamental protections that guarantee all of us our humanity. I fear for our future. Read these pages and weep for our country, the rule of law and victims of torture everywhere.” -Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
“The minutely detailed chronological narrative embodied in this volume..possesses an awful and powerful cumulative weight.[…]The book is necessary, if grueling, reading for anyone interested in understanding the back story to those terrible photos from Saddam Hussein’s former prison, and abuses at other American detention facilities.” -New York Times Book Review
Greenberg, Karen J., Editor. The Torture Debate in America. Cambridge University Press (November 28, 2005) 0521674611 9780521674614
[from the publisher] As a result of the work assembling the documents, memoranda, and reports that constitute the material in The Torture Papers questions were raised about the rationale underlying the Bush administration’s decision to condone the use of coercive interrogation techniques in the interrogation of detainees suspected of terrorist connections. The condoned use of torture in any society is questionable but its use by the United States, a liberal democracy that champions human rights and is a party to international conventions forbidding torture, has sparked an intense debate within America and across the world. The Torture Debate in America captures these arguments with essays from individuals in different disciplines. This volume contains essays covering all sides of the argument, from those who embrace the absolute prohibition of torture to those who see it as a viable option in the war on terror, and with relevant documents complementing the essays.
Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Back Bay Books; revised edition (June 22, 2009) ISBN-10: 0316330116 ISBN-13: 978-0316330114
[from the publisher] The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.
Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.
Mayer, Jane. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. Anchor; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009) ISBN-10: 0307456293 ISBN-13: 978-0307456298
[from the publisher] The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In spellbinding detail, Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions by which key players, namely Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, exploited September 11 to further a long held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.
McCoy, Alfred. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Holt Paperbacks (December 26, 2006) 0805082484 978-0805082487
[from the publisher] In this revelatory account of the CIA’s fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA’s practice of “sensory deprivation” and “self-inflicted pain,” in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim’s senses and destroy the basis of personal identity. McCoy traces the spread of these practices across the globe, from Vietnam to Iran to Central America, and argues that after 9/11, psychological torture became the weapon of choice in the CIA’s global prisons, reinforced by “rendition” of detainees to “torture-friendly” countries. Finally, McCoy shows that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a strong case for the FBI’s legal methods of interrogation. Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have damaged America’s laws, military, and international standing.
Miles, Steven H. Oath Betrayed: America’s Torture Doctors. University of California Press; 1 edition (April 20, 2009) ISBN-10: 0520259688 ISBN-13: 978-0520259683
The news that the United States tortured prisoners in the war on terror has brought shame to the nation, yet little has been written about the doctors and psychologists at these prisons. In Oath Betrayed, medical ethics expert and physician Steven H. Miles tells how doctors, psychologists, and medics cleared prisoners for interrogation, advised and monitored abuse, falsified documents–including death certificates–and were largely silent as the scandal unfolded. This updated and expanded paperback edition gives newly uncovered details about the policies that engage clinicians in torture. It discusses the ongoing furor over psychologists’ participating in interrogations. Most explosively this new edition shows how interrogation psychologists may have moved from information-gathering to coercive experiments, warning all of us about a new direction in U.S. policy and military medicine–a direction that not so long ago was unthinkable.
“This, quite simply, is the most devastating and detailed investigation into a question that has remained a no-no in the current debate on American torture in George Bush’s war on terror: the role of military physicians, nurses and other medical personnel. Dr. Miles writes in a white rage, with great justification–but he lets the facts tell the story.”–Seymour M. Hersh
“Steven Miles has written exactly the book we require on medical complicity in torture. His admirable combination of scholarship and moral passion does great service to the medical profession and to our country.”–Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide and Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans – Neither Victims nor Executioners
Sands, Philippe. Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. Palgrave Macmillan; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009) 0230614434 978-0230614437
In 2002 Donald Rumsfeld signed a memo that authorized the controversial interrogation practices that later migrated to Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. From a behind-the-scenes vantage point, Phillipe Sands investigates how this memo set the stage for a divergence from the Geneva Convention and the Torture Convention and holds the individual gatekeepers in the Bush administration accountable for their failure to safeguard international law. Cited in Congressional hearings, Torture Team is the “rigorous, honest, devastating” (Vanessa Redgrave) account of high ranking members of the Bush administration’s involvement in authorizing torture and subsequent attempt to cover their tracks.