The Phenomenon of Torture
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The Phenomenon of Torture
Readings and Commentary

Edited by William F. Schulz. Foreword by Juan E. Méndez

408 pages | 6 x 9
Paper 2007 | ISBN 978-0-8122-1982-1 | $34.95s | £23.00 | Add to cart
Ebook 2011 | ISBN 978-0-8122-0339-4 | $34.95s | £23.00 | About | Add to cart
A volume in the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series
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"No one is better qualified than Bill Schulz to describe and denounce the vicious but all-too-common practice of torture in today's world. Hopefully, Schulz's outstanding book will launch a new effort to ban torture in all its ugly forms from the face of the earth."—Senator Edward Kennedy

"A sober, astutely assembled compilation and a much-needed contribution to modern-day discussions of government policy."—Midwest Book Review

"A uniquely thoughtful and comprehensive exploration of the topic."—Choice

Torture is the most widespread human rights crime in the modern world, practiced in more than one hundred countries, including the United States. How could something so brutal, almost unthinkable, be so prevalent? The Phenomenon of Torture: Readings and Commentary is designed to answer that question and many others. Beginning with a sweeping view of torture in Western history, the book examines questions such as these: Can anyone be turned into a torturer? What exactly is the psychological relationship between a torturer and his victim? Are certain societies more prone to use torture? Are there any circumstances under which torture is justified—to procure critical information in order to save innocent lives, for example? How can torture be stopped or at least its incidence be reduced?

Edited and with an introduction by the former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, The Phenomenon of Torture draws on the writings of torture victims themselves, such as the Argentinian journalist Jacobo Timerman, as well as leading scholars like Elaine Scarry, author of The Body in Pain. It includes classical works by Voltaire, Jeremy Bentham, Hannah Arendt, and Stanley Milgram, as well as recent works by historian Adam Hochschild and psychotherapist Joan Golston. And it addresses new developments in efforts to combat torture, such as the designation of rape as a war crime and the use of the doctrine of universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators. Designed for the student and scholar alike, it is, in sum, an anthology of the best and most insightful writing about this most curious and common form of abuse. Juan E. Méndez, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide and himself a victim of torture, provides a foreword.

William F. Schulz served as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA from 1994 to 2006. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Adjunct Professor at the New School in New York City. Schulz is the author of two books on human rights, In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All and Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights.

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