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When the State Kills:
Capital Punishment and the American Condition
Austin Sarat

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


"A volume that is strikingly successful in fulfilling its author's pledge to disclose 'new narrative possibilities in the conversation about state killing.'"--Timothy Kaufman Osborn, Yale Law Journal

"When the State Kills remains appropriate for the 21st Century, perhaps now more than ever."--David S. Mann, Law and Politics Book Review

"[A] passionate and thoughtful book."--Andrew Norris, American Political Science Review

"Valuable for its creative, yet hard-headed effort to confront the meaning of the death penalty in American culture, this book attends to capitol punishment as killing and citizens as killers. . . . Aside from its compelling contribution to study of the death penalty, this timely book is splendid cultural critique and commentary."--Ethics


"Of all the books which I have read on the death penalty--and that number is considerable--Sarat's probing analysis in these pages is among the best. I turned to some of Sarat's research when I wrote Dead Man Walking. I trust his scholarship and his ability to construct a probing analysis of cultural assumptions and political and legal practice. Sometimes his insights startle me. Sometimes he jolts me out of intellectual paradigms that had once guided my thinking. I'm very grateful to him for giving us this book. No one who reads it will be the same again. We're talking power here, the power to change consciousness. Fasten your seat belts."--Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking

"When the State Kills describes how capital punishment and the politics of vengeance have corrupted the courts, other institutions of government, and our culture. It documents the enormous cost of the death penalty to society far beyond the cases in which it is inflicted. And it reveals the poverty of vision that has kept the United States from joining other nations in abandoning this violent and primitive form of punishment."--Stephen B. Bright, Director, Southern Center for Human Rights

"Sarat's brilliant, probing study lights the way to a new depth of understanding of the dangerous role of capital punishment in American society. It shows how the death penalty, trivially unimportant as a tool of crime control, has become a central focus of this nation's agonized, obsessive struggle to define itself as strong, clear-sighted and self-confident enough to revel in divine power over life and death. Profoundly insightful."--Anthony G. Amsterdam, capital defense lawyer, Professor of Law, New York University

"Capital punishment is one of the main crimes of state. In this lucid, scrupulous, and passionate book, Austin Sarat explores the many facets of capital punishment in order to present the practice fully and unsparingly. He prepares the way for a new critique of capital punishment by articulating the most cogent reasons against it. The book is a triumph of humanist scholarship."--George Kateb, Princeton University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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