Over the past three decades, the United States has embraced the death penalty with tenacious enthusiasm. While most of those countries whose legal systems and cultures are normally compared to the United States have abolished capital punishment, the United States continues to employ this ultimate tool of punishment. The death penalty has achieved an unparalleled prominence in our public life and left an indelible imprint on our politics and culture. It has also provoked intense scholarly debate, much of it devoted to explaining the roots of American exceptionalism.
America's Death Penalty takes a different approach to the issue by examining the historical and theoretical assumptions that have underpinned the discussion of capital punishment in the United States today. At various times the death penalty has been portrayed as an anachronism, an inheritance, or an innovation, with little reflection on the consequences that flow from the choice of words. This volume represents an effort to restore the sense of capital punishment as a question caught up in history. Edited by leading scholars of crime and justice, these original essays pursue different strategies for unsettling the usual terms of the debate. In particular, the authors use comparative and historical investigations of both Europe and America in order to cast fresh light on familiar questions about the meaning of capital punishment. This volume is essential reading for understanding the death penalty in America.
Contributors: David Garland, Douglas Hay, Randall McGowen, Michael Meranze, Rebecca McLennan, and Jonathan Simon.
Publisher: New York University Press
Number of pages: 241
Weight: 349 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
"[F]ascinating and well written...A worthy addition to the historical analysis of the death penalty"-Library Journal
"This is a book that gives profoundly important answers, but not easy ones. Six leading figures discuss the American death penalty in this volume. All six leave us wondering whether the simple stories we like to tell can possibly be adequate."-James Q. Whitman,Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law, Yale Law School
"An interesting collection that contributes to the further academic debate on capital punishment."-Jurgen Martschukat,The Journal of American History
"If I were asked to recommend a single book that puts the vexed and emotionally charged question of the death penalty into an intelligible historical and contemporary political perspective it would be this one. The introduction sets the stage beautifully and the essays that follow allow readers to come at the problem from a variety of mutually reinforcing perspectives. It is a model for intellectually rigorous scholarship on a morally exigent matter."-Thomas W. Laqueur,Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
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