Yale law professor Bishop, a critical but sympathetic observer of the military justice system, provides an informative overview of past and present military law in the United States and of the international law of war. First giving the back of his hand to what he describes as the American Civil Liberties Union view of courts-martial as ""kangaroo proceedings,"" he details the functioning of the hierarchy of military courts, ultimately concluding that the possibility of unfairness is indeed inherent in the major role the commanding officer plays in service-related criminal proceedings. He then analyzes developing judicial views of the jurisdiction of courts-martial and of soldiers' entitlement to the protections of the Bill of Rights. The tone becomes more contentious in later chapters, which focus on such vexed questions as the war power, martial law and war crimes. Bishop has scant use for liberal pieties. His acid assessments of what seem to him foolishness or knavery are diverting or distracting, depending on your point of view; Daniel Ellsberg, for example, is offhandedly characterized as a ""curious combination of exhibitionist and sneak,"" and Ramsey Clark's views on Vietnam are dismissed as airily as Jane Fonda's. This is a lively, strong-minded book that some will find abrasive.