All the Missing Souls is a masterful, well-paced read that fills a glaring gap in the literature on international justice. Scheffer is to be applauded for having written a passionate yet restrained personal account that is lucid, self-critical, and smart, and of singular importance. I have no doubt that All the Missing Souls will come to rank alongside Telford Taylor's The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials. Scheffer is the Taylor of our times.
All the Missing Souls is a very personal history, an angry book by an often bitter man caught in the middle, conflicted in his loyalties, trying to advance the American agenda on international justice, while simultaneously having to tell potential allies in other countries that the agenda did not apply to Americans... [T]he question of whether the establishment of international justice was actually worth it hangs over David Scheffer's narrative... Justice--imperfect, partial, expensive--has been done and even been seen to be done. In these places, murderous rages have subsided. Some have reconciled. States have achieved stability. People are moving on. One of the reasons for this may be that in some cases justice was done. If so, David Scheffer can be proud of what he tried to do. -- Michael Ignatieff New York Review of Books The story [Scheffer] tells is fascinating, for it makes clear that his principal adversary in the struggle for international justice wasn't African warlords or Balkan nationalists but members of his own government. -- Lawrence R Douglas Times Literary Supplement A diplomat fights an uphill battle to bring the worst criminals to justice in this dogged memoir... Scheffer's narrative is an epic diplomatic history... In it we see the birth of a more responsible and civilized world order. Publishers Weekly David Scheffer, a former State Department official who was a major architect of the five new tribunals of the 1990s, takes a refreshingly different approach to American pride in his semi-autobiographical study of the new courts. He is critical of his president (Clinton), he is critical of his secretary of state (Albright), and, remarkably and refreshingly in an American memoir in the twenty-first century, he is critical of himself... Scheffer ... offers an impressively gripping and persuasive story of the complexity of his own undertakings: the cooperation across bureaucracies domestic and international, the development of law respectfully and creatively, and the furious indifference of circumstance to the best of intentions. In other words, he has written a good book of contemporary history. -- Timothy Snyder New Republic A revealing and valuable record of the U.S. role in the effort to entrench accountability for mass atrocities as a central principle in international affairs... The centerpiece of Scheffer's book is a long and vivid account of the negotiations to set up a permanent International Criminal Court. -- Anthony Dworkin Washington Post David Scheffer ... provides the ultimate insider's life work, part autobiography, part documentary, all highly informative and enlightening. Indeed, much of the information contained in this text simply cannot be obtained from any other source. -- Matthew Kane International Affairs Meticulous... From 1993 to 1997 [Scheffer] served as senior adviser to Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the UN, and then until 2001, on President Bill Clinton's nomination, he became the first US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues. Scheffer is therefore particularly well placed to describe the changes that occurred over that eight-year period... All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals is first and foremost an insider's account, and one written from a US perspective... No country has done more to create an international justice system than the US, or to keep itself outside the reach of that system. If nothing else, Scheffer's account establishes that for the US, even for the Clinton administration, this was about making international law for others. -- Philippe Sands Financial Times Scheffer recounts the effort to extend the reach of international justice to war zones and collapsing societies... This impeccably documented work stands as a condemnation not just of such Bush-era expediency but also of moral compromise at the expense of the powerless. It's also the story of an attempt to attain the most strenuous of goals: upholding civilization in the face of monstrous evil. Scheffer is one of the very few people who can tell it. -- Douglas Gillison Time The most enduring and sobering message of All the Missing Souls is that--unless the most powerful players in international military actions insist otherwise--international criminal justice is always at the bottom of the list. -- Jacqueline Bhabha Harvard Magazine Pioneering... From the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo to the trial of Charles Taylor in Sierra Leone, Scheffer recounts the highlights of this 'truly international counterattack on impunity for the worst possible crimes.' Reflecting after nearly a decade of battles, the author writes that international justice is the art of the possible and requires endless patience and persistence... An important resource for scholars and specialists in international law. Kirkus Reviews Scheffer provides a fascinating insider's account of the formation of the war crimes tribunals following atrocities in the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia... Scheffer chronicles in captivating detail the diplomatic and political minefields that he and his colleagues navigated to help establish the International Criminal Court... A superb account and unique perspective on the subject, complementing works such as Carla Del Ponte's Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity's Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity. -- Lynne F. Maxwell Library Journal As the first Ambassador at large for War Crimes Issues, David Scheffer was literally at the centre of what is the most fertile period in the development of international criminal law since the Nuremberg Trial... His insights into the dynamics of the evolving US policy in international criminal justice are invaluable. Amongst the many textbooks in international criminal law, David Scheffer's book is refreshingly different. It makes good reading for specialists and for students, yet it is also highly accessible to a broad public. This is a must acquisition for the international criminal law bookshelf. -- William A. Schabas PhD Studies in Human Rights The reporting of genocide and mass atrocities in the media often has the effect of dulling us to their full horror. They become abstractions, something that happens to other people, far away. In All the Missing Souls, Scheffer makes those crimes immediate and real, and describes an extraordinary effort to further the creation of a world that 'holds war criminals in contempt and breeds them no more.' -- Maria Browning Chapter 16 This is an honest and scholarly book. -- Geoffrey Robertson New Statesman [Scheffer] documents, in careful detail, the convoluted behind-the-scenes steps that went into the setting up of the various tribunals, the nit-picking delays, the timidity and obfuscation of governments and the endless postponements and quibbling... [A] historically important book of record. -- Caroline Moorehead Literary Review Scheffer, who led U.S. efforts to develop international criminal courts during the Clinton administration, has written a personal history of these efforts... Full of exhaustive details, although not organized in chronological or systematic fashion, this book will be of great interest to specialists in the field. Choice This is an important book, its final chapter being, perhaps, the most important, because it points a way forward to new categories of crimes against humanity, such as atrocity crime, which need to be on the statute book if the ICC is to have even sharper teeth. -- Rabbi Dr Charles H Middleburgh Middleburgh Blog All the Missing Souls clearly fills a gap in literature on the administration of international justice, and it is must reading for those interested in emerging themselves profoundly in this field. His direct personal involvement in working to create international tribunals to bring to justice individuals responsible for the worst of the 'atrocity crimes' of recent decades demonstrates that perseverance and tenacity can make a difference on the international scene. -- Martin Wenick American Diplomacy David Scheffer has provided us with a unique insight into the international legislative process and into the making of US foreign policy. We are in his debt. -- Chris Brown RUSI Journal All the Missing Souls is an excellent narrative on the formation and the future of international justice and rule of law initiatives. -- Justin L. Heather Chicago Bar Association Record Scheffer's general observations and recommendations are grounded in a wealth of detail on the diplomatic ins and outs of the pursuit of international criminal justice during his tenure. -- Richard B. Bilder American Journal of International Law
David Scheffer is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law. He led American initiatives on war crimes tribunals during the 1990s, served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues (1997-2001), and was named one of "Foreign Policy"'s "Top Global Thinkers of 2011."