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Truth, Torture, and the American Way: The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture Paperback – September 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807003077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807003077
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When torture photos from Abu Ghraib became public in spring 2004, Americans reacted with revulsion: how could our military commit such horrible acts? In fact, Harbury's well-documented volume reveals, American representatives abroad have been involved in torture for decades, much of it in Central America, where U.S. agents apparently encouraged the kidnapping, maltreatment and murder of left-wing fighters and their suspected sympathizers. Harbury's own husband became one of the Guatemalan victims-she described his fate in Searching for Everardo-and this new volume alludes to his story repeatedly. Its central chapter compiles testimony from Latin American torture survivors, making a case for U.S. involvement in "torture by proxy." Harbury accompanies her evidence with passionate if unsurprising denunciations, calling torture not just inhumane and illegal but ineffective: since tortured suspects confess to anything, she says, their statements may be worth nothing. Making use of her Harvard Law training, Harbury suggests legal avenues through which even federally sanctioned torturers may be held responsible. If her book holds few surprises for those who have followed these stories closely, its cases will certainly stoke the fires of outrage. Radio host Amy Goodman, of Pacifica's Democracy Now program, contributes a foreword (not seen by PW).
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Review

Compelling . . . Bold . . . A clear-eyed gaze into a labyrinth of lies.
-Washington Post Book World

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By T. K. Sanders on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book chillingly places the Bush Administration's torture policies in the proper historical perspective. The so-called war on terror is not the first time the U.S. has employed abduction, torture, and murder to further its political agenda. As Ms. Harbury thoroughly and unflinchingly reveals, throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the United States (directly and by proxy) abducted, tortured, murdered, and "disappeared" thousands of people in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, all in the name of fighting communism. It is a history that American nationalists ignore or claim never really happened. It did happen and we are witnessing history repeated itself in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the various nations to which we ship detainees to be tortured. Anyone who cares about human rights should read this book. Anyone who does not care about human rights should also read this book, on the off chance that it may resuscitate his/her soul or conscience.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Steven K. Dankof on October 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ms. Harbury's book is a must read for anyone interested in the facts surrounding America's all too frequent resort to terror and torture. Ms. Harbury is a true patriot who holds up a mirror to America and forces us to take a good long look at what's done by our Government in our name.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alice on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this a hard book to read because of the information presented. It is depressing to learn that America has such an oppressive government and sponsors torture and right wing terror throughout the world. After reading this book I have researched many more instances of torture funded by the CIA, etc. and it has spurred me to join Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among other human rights groups. Overall I found the book enlightening and well written and it has made a definite difference in my life.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By kubanna on March 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Harbury is at her best when exploring the CIA's involvement in Latin America. She draws striking parallels between the torture and abuses committed in Central America in the 1980s & 90s and the heinous situation in Iraq today.

Where this book falls flat, however, is in her ability to go beyond a mere expose of the interrogation techniques that have become a matter of policy. Her recommendations for improving our country's adherence to international standards prohibiting torture lack teeth. She makes a very compelling argument about why it is wrong to torture, but does not make a convincing enough exploration of where we go from here. In addition, the parallel she tries to draw at the end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict feels forced and tangential.

Nonetheless, this book succinctly summarizes the major issues concerning the U.S. and torture and is a good primer for someone who may not be as familiar with the issues. Anyone who has kept up with the flood of articles appearing in the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and elsewhere, however, may find large pieces of this book repetitive.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Coenen on September 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a dpressing eye-opener for those who have suspected the CIA's complicity in torture around the world, but never had it confirmed. Read this book and weep for our government.
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