In the early 20th century, the diesel-electric submarine made possible a new type of unrestricted naval warfare. Such brutal practices as targeting passenger, cargo, and hospital ships not only violated previous international agreements; they were targeted explicitly at civilians. A deviant form of warfare quickly became the norm.
In Atrocity, Deviance, and Submarine Warfare, Nachman Ben-Yehuda recounts the evolution of submarine warfare, explains the nature of its deviance, documents its atrocities, and places these developments in the context of changing national identities and definitions of the ethical, at both social and individual levels. Introducing the concept of cultural cores, he traces the changes in cultural myths, collective memory, and the understanding of unconventionality and deviance prior to the outbreak of World War I. Significant changes in cultural cores, Ben-Yehuda concludes, permitted the rise of wartime atrocities at sea.
“As a study of war and crimes associated with it, Ben-Yehuda’s book is phenomenal. He considers the atrocities and their definition as such within the different social and cultural contexts of the combatants.”
—A. R. Gillis, University of Toronto
“Atrocity, Deviance, and Submarine Warfare is . . . intellectually innovative, carefully researched, and eloquently written. It is also vitally significant not only to central issues of public policy but a number of academic disciplines, from sociology and history to political science, international relations, cultural studies, peace and conflict studies, public affairs and perhaps even security studies.”
—Lester Kurtz, George Mason University