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Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment (Legal History & Biography Series) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Meltsner , Evan J. Mandery

Print List Price: $20.99
Kindle Price: $8.99
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If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 67%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.


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Book Description

The true and gripping account of the nine-year struggle by a small band of lawyers to abolish the death penalty in the United States. Its new edition features a 2011 Foreword by death-penalty author Evan Mandery of CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as a new Preface by the author.

The mission, plotted out over deli sandwiches in New York's Central Park in the early 1960s, seemed as impossible then as going to the moon: abolish capital punishment in every state. The approach would fight a war on multiple fronts, using multiple strategies. The people would be dedicated, bright, unsure, unpopular, and fascinating. This is their story: not only the cases and the arguments before courts, the death row inmates and their victims, the judges and politicians urging law and order – this is the true account of the real-life lawyers from the inside. The United States indeed went to the moon, and a few years later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. The victory was long-sought and sweet, and the pages of this book vividly let the reader live the struggle and the victory. And while the abolition eventually became as impermanent as the nation's presence on the moon, these dedicated attorneys certainly made a difference.

As Evan Mandery writes in his new Foreword, "In these pages, Meltsner lays bare every aspect of his and his colleagues’ thinking. You will read how they handicapped their chances, which arguments they thought would work (you may be surprised), and what they thought of the Supreme Court justices who would decide the crucial cases. You will come to understand what they perceived to be the basis for support for the death penalty, and, with Meltsner’s unflinching honesty, what they perceived to be the inconsistencies in their position."

Mandery concludes: "It is my odd lot in life to have read almost every major book ever written about the death penalty in America. This is the best and the most important. Every serious scholar who wants to advance an argument about capital punishment in the United States – whether it is abolitionist or in favor of the death penalty, or merely a tactical assessment – cites this book. It is open and supremely accessible." And the author's "constitutional vision was years ahead of its time. His book is timeless."

Part of the Legal History & Biography Series from Quid Pro Books, the new ebook editions feature active TOC and linked endnotes, quality digital formatting, a complete Index, and even embedded pagination from previous print editions (the page numbers are inserted into the 2011 paperback edition as well, allowing continuity across all formats and editions).

Even though such features promote ready classroom assignment and easy scholarly citation, this book is not written just for students and lawyers nor bogged down with heavy jargon. It is about the people and the movement. It is very accessible to a wide audience – for any reader interested in going inside the intense mission of these dedicated activists.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Meltsner is a senior professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, and its former dean. Hired by Thurgood Marshall as only the second white lawyer on the staff of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Meltsner litigated cases throughout the country and in many causes before teaching law at Columbia, Harvard, and Northeastern Universities.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1225 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Quid Pro Books (July 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,896 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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