GREAT COURT-MARTIAL CASES by Joseph DiMona

GREAT COURT-MARTIAL CASES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twelve American court-martials from Benedict Arnold to Calley ""selected for their legal significance and historical importance."" DiMona, who writes in a breezy, popular manner, charges that the quality of military justice ""has been improved dramatically over the years, but still does not work."" His approach however is mainly descriptive, not analytical; you get a readable narrative of the General ""Billy"" Mitchell and Captain Howard Levy right to dissent cases, the trial of Private Eddie Slovik who was executed for desertion, etc., but the inexplicably brief ""epilogues"" or critiques following each adjudication never give more than a superficial sense of the case's precedential consequence. In some instances the case lacks landmark status, e.g., Custer's AWOL after the Civil War; in others DiMona stretches historical fact, e.g., did Arnold's court-martial conviction and reprimand by Washington really account for his subsequent treasonous conduct? DiMona is probably right that the Uniform Code of Military Justice needs revision -- both he and Senator Birch Bayh, who contributes a foreword, proselytize against excessive command influence in the court-martial process -- but these cases constitute little more than drumhead argumentation.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap