The Rights of War and Peace by Hugo Grotius, edited by Richard Tuck
As a political theorist, Hugo Grotius is especially interesting for his attempt to develop a natural-law alternative to the Thomistic natural law while at the same time resisting the modern doctrine of his younger contemporary, Thomas Hobbes. Liberty Fund has now republished in three volumes Grotius's masterwork of natural and international law, The Rights of War and Peace (1625). This edition is a double treat, for it is a reprint of the anonymous English translation (1738) of Jean Barbeyrac's French edition (1724). The latter includes a set of notes that have come to hold nearly as much interest as Grotius's text. Since the book is so learned—some might say inclined to name-dropping-Barbeyrac's notes are especially useful. But more than editorial comments, the notes also contain a running conversation, often debate, between Barbeyrac and Grotius. Barbeyrac, too, was extremely learned, and he brought to bear arguments from other natural-law writers, including later ones like Samuel Pufendorf. Richard Tuck of Harvard, one of the world's leading Grotius scholars, provides a brief introduction, supplying helpful context for the reader. As with all Liberty Fund editions, this is a beautiful set, selling at a generously affordable price.
University of Notre Dame
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This article appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of the Claremont Review of Books