The Death Penalty, by Stuart Banner
Our hottest, most divisive cultural arguments are often conducted without any awareness of historical context, as the debates over abortion and capital punishment attest. But it does not have to be this way. Historians Linda Gordon and, most recently, Leslie Reagan have written excellent works on the history of abortion in the United States. And Stuart Banner has now given us a history of the death penalty.
In this dispassionate but chillingly detailed survey of capital punishment, Banner, professor of law at St. Louis's Washington University, documents and explains the dramatic "changes in the arguments pro and con, in the crimes punished with death, in execution methods and rituals . . . [and] in the way Americans have understood and experienced the death penalty."
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