Thursday, April 23, 2009

Torture Reading

Just a couple of quick recommendations for those of you keeping up with the current scandal over the so-called "torture memos." I've been doing a lot of reading on this stuff over the course of the past year as a part of my research, and I plan to include both of these texts in my "Justice" course this coming fall.

First, Darius Rejali's Torture and Democracy. This is a mammoth of a book (almost 900 pages), but it is an invaluable resource for all things having to do with torture-- including the history of the practice, the moral and political arguments about its permissability and utility, the various ways it has been put to use and perfected, and the special problems that torture poses for democracies.

And, second, Mark Danner's Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror. Danner, who has written numerous articles on the subject for The New Yorker, assembles in this book all of the documentary evidence surrounding the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Included along with Danner's own essays are government memos, scores of pages of testimony from torture victims and perpetrators, and the texts of the Taguba, Schlessinger, and Fay/Jones Reports. Also included are all of the Abu Ghraib photographs.

Neither of these are pleasant reads, but they are necessary reading, to be sure.

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