Cover: Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition, from Harvard University PressCover: Civilizing Torture in HARDCOVER

Civilizing Torture

An American Tradition

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Product Details


$35.00 • £25.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674737662

Publication: November 2018

Available 10/15/2018


416 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

16 photos

Belknap Press


  • Introduction. A Question of Civilization
  • 1. The Manners of Barbarians
  • 2. Discipline in a Young Democracy
  • 3. Cruelty and the Paradox of Slave Property
  • 4. Torture in the Brothers’ War
  • 5. Imperialist Excesses
  • 6. Police Station Trespasses
  • 7. Cold War Brutality
  • 8. The Enemy Within
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Illustration Credits
    • 1.1. “The Death of John Lawson.” Christopher de Graffenried Manuscript Collection (Mul. 466) N.70.10.168. Courtesy of the State of North Carolina
    • 1.2. “Several Modes of Inflicting Pain During the Inquisition.” Wikimedia Commons
    • 2.1. “Implements of Torture, and Their Dangerous Effects.” Library of Congress, LC-DIG-pga-05111
    • 2.2. “The Negro Convict, More, Showered to Death.” Harper’s Weekly, December 18, 1858. Reproduced from the author’s collection
    • 3.1. “The Author Hanging by His Hands Tied to a Cotton Screw.” Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery. With an Appendix, Containing a List of Places Visited by the Author in Great Britain and Ireland and the British Isles; and Other Matter (Berwick-upon-Tweed: Published for the author and printed at the Warder Office, 1848). University Libraries, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • 3.2. “Wilson Chinn, a Branded Slave” ca. 1863. Library of Congress, LC-USZ62–90345
    • 4.1. “Southern Chivalry—Dedicated to Jeff Davis.” Harper’s Weekly, February 7, 1863. Reproduced from the author’s collection
    • 4.2. “Retribution Will Be Surely Given.” Harper’s Weekly, May 21, 1864. Reproduced from the author’s collection
    • 5.1. “How United States Soldiers Were Met by Conquered Natives.” Library of Congress, LC-USZ62–97325
    • 5.2. “Those Pious Yanks Can’t Throw Stones at Us Anymore.” Life, May 22, 1902. University Libraries, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • 6.1. “‘Well, Captain, the Prisoner Has Confessed to Murder!’ ‘O.K. Hold Him till There Is a Murder!’” Caroline and Erwin Swann Collection, Library of Congress.
    • 6.2. “President Herbert Hoover Meeting with the Wickersham Commission, May 1929.” Library of Congress, LC-USZ62–97325
    • 7.1. “The Evidence Is Piling Up.” Source: Library of Congress
    • 7.2. “Soldiers Torturing Viet Cong Suspect.” Getty Images / Bettmann / 515099564
    • 8.1. “We Do Not Torture People!” CartoonStock
    • 8.2. Protestors Demand Justice for Victims of Chicago Police Torture. Getty Images / 71496768
  • Index