About the Film

February 16, 2017

Dead Reckoning is an unprecedented series about the evolution of postwar justice over the past seven decades — and the failure to investigate war crimes and prosecute the perpetrators.

Syria. Iraq. Rwanda. Congo. The Balkans. Sri Lanka. Guatemala. Vietnam. Massive war crimes have ravaged our world in the seven decades since World War II. How can—and should—the international community act to bring those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity to justice? Ending war seems beyond humankind’s abilities, but significant advances have been made in investigating and prosecuting these international crimes.

Dead Reckoning follows war crimes investigators and prosecutors as they pursue some of the world’s most notorious war criminals—notably Adolf Eichmann, Saddam Hussein, Radovan Karadzic, Charles Taylor, and Efraín Ríos Montt. The principles, legal doctrines and tactics that emerged from those pursuits now inform the effort to expose, prosecute, and punish present day human rights violators whose depredations have left millions dead and displaced. It is a tale of daring escapades, political obstruction, broken promises, and triumphs and failures.

Produced, written and directed by Jonathan Silvers, the Emmy-Award winning journalist and filmmaker behind the documentary Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals, the new three-hour special Dead Reckoning serves as a comprehensive sequel to that endeavor.

Dead Reckoning: War, Crime, and Justice from WW2 to the War on Terror is comprised of the following three program hours:

The General’s Ghost (Hour 1)

The film begins with vengeance: U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s 1945 military trial of Japan’s General Tomoyuki Yamashita for horrific atrocities in the Philippines.  Despite the lack of any evidence that Yamashita ordered or even knew about the atrocities, he was condemned to death, raising the question:  Are commanders responsible for crimes their troops commit?

The Blind Eye (Hour 2)

The second hour looks at how the United States and the Soviet Union shoved international justice into the deep freeze of the Cold War, and how atrocities in conflicts with high numbers of civilian deaths—such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Guatemala—are covered up or ignored.

In Our Time (Hour 3)

In the third and final hour, we see both the revitalization of postwar justice over two decades and its limitations in confronting the exponential rise in civilian atrocities—sexual violence and genocide—occurring in the Balkans, Rwanda, Congo, Syria, Sri Lanka, and other countries.