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 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674737662

Publication Date: 11/12/2018


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.
    • 1.2. Several Modes of Inflicting Pain during the Inquisition.
    • 2.1. Implements of Torture, and Their Dangerous Effects.
    • 2.2. The Negro Convict, More, Showered to Death. Harper’s Weekly, December 18, 1858.
    • 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).
    • 3.2. Wilson Chinn, a Branded Slave from Louisiana, ca. 1863.
    • 4.1. Southern Chivalry—Dedicated to Jeff. Davis. Harper’s Weekly, February 7, 1863.
    • 4.2. Retribution Will Be Surely Given. Harper’s Weekly, May 21, 1864.
    • 5.1. How United States Soldiers Were Met by Conquered Natives.
    • 5.2. Those Pious Yanks Can’t Throw Stones at Us Anymore. Life, May 22, 1902.
    • 6.1. “Well, Captain, the Prisoner Has Confessed to Murder!” “O.K. Hold Him till There Is a Murder!”
    • 6.2. President Herbert Hoover Meeting with the Wickersham Commission, May 1929.
    • 7.1. “The Evidence Is Piling Up.”
    • 7.2. Soldiers Torturing Viet Cong Suspect.
    • 8.1. “We Do Not Torture People!”
    • 8.2. Protestors Demand Justice for Victims of Chicago Police Torture.
  • Index

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