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Hiding in Plain Sight

The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror

Eric Stover (Author), Victor Peskin (Author), Alexa Koenig (Author)


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ISBN: 9780520962767
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Hiding in Plain Sight tells the story of the global effort to apprehend the world’s most wanted fugitives. Beginning with the flight of tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals and their collaborators after World War II, then moving on to the question of justice following the recent Balkan wars and the Rwandan genocide, and ending with the establishment of the International Criminal Court and America’s pursuit of suspected terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11, the book explores the range of diplomatic and military strategies—both successful and unsuccessful—that states and international courts have adopted to pursue and capture war crimes suspects. It is a story fraught with broken promises, backroom politics, ethical dilemmas, and daring escapades—all in the name of international justice and human rights.

Hiding in Plain Sight is a companion book to the public television documentary Dead Reckoning: Postwar Justice from World War II to The War on Terror. For more information about the documentary, visit And for more information about the Human Rights Center, visit


1. Introduction: The Promise of International Justice

Part One
2. To Nuremberg and Beyond
3. The Hunters and the Hunted
4. Pursuing the Last Nazi War Criminals

Part Two
5. Balkan Fugitives, International Prosecutors
6. Tracking Rwanda’s Génocidaires
7. Hybrid Tribunals: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Part Three
8. International Criminal Court: At the Mercy of States
9. The “War on Terror” and Its Legacy
10. Epilogue: The Future of Global Justice

Selected Bibliography
Eric Stover is Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health in the School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.

Victor Peskin is Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University and Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.
Alexa Koenig is Executive Director of the Human Rights Center and Lecturer in Residence in the School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.
"In Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror, Eric Stover, Victor Peskin and Alexa Koenig combine meticulous historical and legal research to trace the global search for war criminals from Adolf Eichmann to Ratko Mladic, Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden. Beginning by detailing the legal and humanitarian precedents set by the Nuremberg Trials and the Geneva Convention, and ending with a critique of the United States’ moral negation during the so-called ‘War on Terror’, this book is essential for readers looking to understand why crimes against humanity so frequently go unpunished."—Esther Adaire LSE Review of Books
"Hiding in Plain Sight is an important book for many reasons. First, it reminds of history that we have, for whatever reason, chosen to forget. Second, it shines a light on the hypocrisy and politicking that hampers the process of international justice."—A Bookish Type
“There is no comparable effort to pull together so much material about the evolution of international justice, from Nuremberg to the ad hoc tribunals to the ICC, including contemporary challenges from the ‘war on terror.’ Hiding in Plain Sight is an excellent introduction to the field for students and the general public.”—Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

Hiding in Plain Sight is destined to be an essential work in the field of human rights for years to come. I admire the way the authors’ reach extends back in history—and includes citizen activists as well as courts and tribunals. Their lively writing ensures that the book can be read by all of us, not just legal professionals.”—Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918 

"Hiding in Plain Sight is a fast-paced, well-written account of the pursuit of war criminals. Many have not only committed crimes on a large scale, but have been protected by powerful forces, including governments. This book is essential reading for those who wish to see that those who are responsible for atrocities are brought to justice."—Aryeh Neier, President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and cofounder of Human Rights Watch

"This is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the history and importance of pursuing war crimes trials against the men and women who have violated international law. Hiding in Plain Sight, revolving around the essential task of finding war criminals and making them stand trial, is a wonderfully comprehensive and clearly worded study that everyone should read. It serves as a resource treasure for information about the major war criminals and war crimes of our era. It also serves as a major contribution to understanding where and how the pursuit of justice can go wrong, especially in relation to the American 'extraordinary rendition' program after 9/11. If you want to understand the war criminals of modern times and the dogged pursuit of justice for them, this is the only book you need to read, and you must read it."—Peter Maass, author of Love Thy Neighbor: The Story of War

"One of the world's most daunting challenges is securing the arrest of war crimes suspects, especially when they are high-level civilian or military leaders. Hiding in Plain Sight deals a much-needed blow to impunity by revealing how governments and international institutions have sometimes succeeded—but more often failed—to live up to their legal obligations to bring war criminals to justice. Built on scores of interviews with jurists, investigators, and activists from the front lines of international criminal law, this thoroughly researched book is both extremely timely and long overdue."—Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

"The cycle of impunity for atrocity crimes is closing slowly but surely. This book documents how that steady progress has been achieved, but also how hard it was and how difficult it is to maintain its momentum. Telling a complex story in a highly readable way, the authors make their own significant contribution to accountability and justice for human rights crimes. The torturer still runs, but he can no longer hide." —Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture 

“A riveting modern history, on the trail of international justice in the face of politics and self-interest, Hiding in Plain Sight is a must-read for anyone who wants to know from whence we have come and the obstacles that will fill the road that lies ahead."—Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free

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