Author Archives: James Klimaski, Esq.

Court-Martial: How Military Justice Has Shaped America from the Revolution to 9/11 and Beyond

This entry is part of On Watch 28.1 Spring 2017
Book Review

Court-Martial: How Military Justice Has Shaped America from the Revolution to 9/11 and Beyond

by Mr. Chris Bray, US Army Infantry Sergeant & PhD in History from UCLA.

The United States came into existence at a time when the laws of war and governance of the armies which fought them were beginning to take hold and develop. The new nation had only a limited history of warfare: formations of citizen militias to fight off attacks from Native American tribes trying to resist further expansion of the European colonists.

These militia formations consisted of friends and neighbors: volunteers and pressured townspeople or farmers, who had a personal stake in whatever fight they were engaged in. Officers were elected. These citizens taught themselves how to fight and behave as soldiers. It was not uncommon for debates to occur as to the best ways to fight. Once the danger was over, these militias would become dormant or even disband.

To keep up a presence, some would become clubs or social organizations. It was from this core that an American revolutionary army would emerge. And this is the starting point for Chris Bray’s Court-Martial and its chronicle of the evolution of American military law and American military justice. The book is not just for those interested in the history of law. Bray presents a picture of military law attempting to protect the status quo as the world changes.