Reviews: 'As an "innocent", which is to say non-specialist, reader of Shakespeare, I knew that one could find everything in his work, as in the Bible; what I had not imagined was that the Bard - what a devil of a man! - could also inspire one to reflect on a subject that so closely presses upon us today: the ethics of war. Paola Pugliatti's book, however, has obliged me to re-read him from this entirely new perspective.'
'Thinking and writing on the idea of just war, its meaning, and its use erupted into high flower in England during the end of the sixteenth century and the first part of the seventeenth, responding to the Continental religious wars, the ongoing hostile relations between England and Spain, and the increasing emergence of England as a global power and power broker. Those who contributed to this phenomenon included political and military figures, theologians, lawyers, and not least, playwrights, including Marlowe and especially Shakespeare, who publicized and interpreted the just war idea for the non-intellectual public. In Shakespeare, Paola Pugliatti writes, "war is ubiquitous". Her examination of his use of war and of just war tradition in his work places it in the context of the prior development of this tradition during the late Middle Ages and the burgeoning debates about just war in Shakespeare’s own time. Not only does her study add depth to understanding Shakespeare on war; it provides a primer on the development of the tradition of just war out of which the English debates of this period grew. Pugliatti’s work is an important new addition to reflection on both Shakespeare and just war tradition.'
James Turner Johnson, Rutgers University, USA, and author of many books on just war tradition and its use
'Henry V, ever Shakespeare's classic "war play", provides Pugliatti with an interesting case study in the unending ambivalence of "just". ...[a] fascinating study.' Times Literary Supplement
'Shakespeare and the Just War Tradition provides thoughtful, sometimes provocative analysis of the just war tradition, especially in early modern England. Its claim that Shakespeare's works can stimulate reflection upon contemporary problems concerning the justification of warfare is one that I believe many readers will respect.' Renaissance Quarterly
'The overall structure of the book works well. We move from Christian ideas of the Just War to a very pleasing evocation of the early stating of Henry V in a way that is illuminating and instructive. The volume will attract students of early modern history and literature, but has an appeal to those interested in warfare across the four centuries since Shakespeare put down his pen. It thus makes an important and original contribution to our thinking on the representation of the Just War in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as providing thoughtful comment on military conflict in our own times.' Literature & History
'Pugliatti offers a rich and lucid analysis of the just war tradition; in particular, she shows the continuity between apparently outdated pre-modern concepts and present day debates on humanitarian intervention. By drawing not only on works from the field of literary studies but also from international law, she contributes an innovative approach to the discussion of Shakespeare's representation of war.' Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
'… this dense, well-informed monograph remains a stimulating and fruitful reflection on the issues of war in Shakespeare’s plays and in a number of other literary texts often forgotten by today’s scholars… Pugliatti neglects nothing and pays attention to letters, treatises, translations, and plays imbued with the spirit of war. In short, her book proves invaluable not only to scholars of early modern drama, but to all those interested in the ethics of war and the representation of holy war in literature.' Cercles
'Pugliatti manages to show that the appropriations of Shakespeare’s play as well as today’s “ethic” and “humanitarian” warfare turn out to be merely justifications used in order “to make a war of aggression appear a just war”.' Shakespeare Jahrbuch 2012