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Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide Between America and Europe

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195155259
ISBN-10: 0195155254
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Whitman's whirlwind tour of the punishment practices of three countries over the last two centuries is well worth the price of admission. He has a deep pool of knowledge and an eye for the telling detail--a picture, a turn of phrase, or a small historical event--that helps to advance his thesis." --Boston Review


"Its combination of elegant writing, deep erudition and bold theorizing make the book a terrific read. Indeed, it ought to be required reading for anyone interested in how a society comes to punish the way it does--and how it should."--American Prospect


"Harsh Justice is original, imaginative, and erudite. I read it with great pleasure. The mastery of sources in many languages is awe-inspiring and Whitman's argument resounds with daring suggestions and bold insights. A genuinely learned book, nothing short of brilliant." -Lawrence Friedman, Stanford University


"In this book James Whitman asks and answers questions in realms where others fear to tread. He confronts the brutal fact that we punish more harshly in the United States than do Europeans and forces us to think about the questions of social structure that lie behind this practice. He develops a thesis about the current impact of Nazi jurisprudence that is sure to trigger arguments from more conventional thinkers. This is a profound book, impeccably researched and documented, one that will change the way we think about criminal punishment and increase our appreciation of comparative legal studies." -George Fletcher, Columbia Law School


About the Author


James Q. Whitman is Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale University. He has taught at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools and was trained as a historian at the University of Chicago before taking his law degree at Yale.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195155254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195155259
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.4 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,771,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By West Midwest on June 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who pays attention to the criminal justice systems in America and in other Western democracies knows that the U.S. as a whole is more punitive in its responses to lawbreaking than any similar society. Professor Whitman's wonderful book addresses the question of why this is so. The book's answers, rooted in centuries of history and rich comparative analysis, are surprising, provocative, and persuasive. I know I'll be considering and reconsidering Whitman's major arguments for a long time to come.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Harsh Justice is original, imaginative, and erudite. The mastery of
sources in many languages is awe-inspiring, and Whitman's argument resounds with daring suggestions and bold insights. A genuinely learned book, nothing short of brilliant."
--Lawrence Friedman, author of Law in America
"In this book James Whitman asks and answers questions in realms where others fear to tread. He confronts the brutal fact that we punish more harshly in the United States than do Europeans and forces us to think about the questions of social structure that lie behind this practice. He develops a thesis about the current impact of Nazi jurisprudence that is sure to trigger arguments from more conventional thinkers. This is a profound book, impeccably researched and documented, one that will change the way we think about criminal punishment and increase our appreciation of comparative legal studies."
--George Fletcher, author of The Secret Constitution
"Original, insightful, and provocative, Harsh Justice will start a conversation that has been importantly absent from modern criminology and criminal law. James Whitman asks fundamental questions about the cultural roots of modern differences in penal policy in developed nations and breaks new ground in addressing these issues."
--Franklin E. Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whitman situates the U.S. criminal justice system in a wider world that includes, especially, France and Germany. This book shows just how deviant the United States is in its treatment of criminal offenders, compared to western Europe. If the template for true justice is respect for the dignity of every person, the U.S. fails. It is essential that we understand how and why.

"Harsh justice," he suggests, is an oxymoron.
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