Becoming a “classic” book in international law literature is commonly a protracted process. This assertion has however been faulted by the groundbreaking Martti Koskenniemi’s From Apology to Utopia. This volume was first published in 1989 and immediately turned very successful, a rare feat for a work initially presented as a doctoral thesis. The book that rapidly went out of print is today reissued together with a new epilogue whereby the author responds to critiques drawn by the original work and sheds some light on the contemporary relevance of a theory devised more than fifteen years ago.
Koskenniemi’s book is well-known and has already been the subject of a flurry of comments in literature. A new analysis of the thrust of his thesis would thus be superfluous as well as redundant. It seems more relevant here to take a step back with the view of gauging fifteen years after its publication the significance of this volume’s contribution to international legal scholarship as a whole. In so doing, I intend to offer some observations on Koskenniemi’s ambitious attempt to unite “crude pragmatism” and “theory” in international legal scholarship.