Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Carl Landauer

First Page



In this Article, the author provides an analysis of a classic of international law, The Law of Nations, by J.L. Brierly. The author describes Brierly as an international legal scholar whose modernization of international law involves an emphasis on fact and complexity, an emphasis that is ultimately little more than a gesture. The author then examines the narrative structure of The Law of Nations and indicates the normative messages disclosed in Brierly's telling of the story of international law. Finally, the author describes Brierly's effort to describe international law as occupying a political realm while Brierly's evolutionary optimism made him anything but a political realist. In short, the author sees in Brierly's promises of complexity and realism a thinly veiled simplicity that would be subsumed into the orthodoxies of international legal thought.