Peter Karsten is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, with joint appointments in the sociology department and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He is the author of the prizewinning The Naval Aristocracy: The Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern American Navalism (1972); Law, Soldiers, and Combat (1978); Heart versus Head: Judge-Made Law in Nineteenth-Century America (1997); the prizewinning Between Law and Custom: "High" and "Low" Legal Cultures in the Lands of the British Diaspora, 1600–1900 (2003); and The Magic Mirror: Law in American History (2nd edition, 2009), among other books. He is also editor-in-chief of the prizewinning Encyclopedia of War and American Society (3 volumes, 2005). He has held visiting chairs at University College Dublin, Augsburg Universitat, and The Citadel.
Celtic Irish and Highlands as well as other Britons have sojourned in British Imperial lands, where they have engaged in contact with Indigenous people. How did they these ethic groups compare in their reactions to Indigenes? Were the former two groups empathetical to the Indigenes out of a sense of identification with their common plight ? Were they more or less likely than their English counterparts to have been harsh or empathetic towards Indigenes? Karstan puts these hypotheticals to a test by examining the courts-martial records of British military personnel in India, 1878-1912, where the largest numbers of such similar, ethnically-organized Britons were stationed, more than any other colonial domain in the Empire. He offers social psychological theory to explain his surprise findings, not predicted in the considerable literature on this controversy.