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Peculiar Institution: America's Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674057234
ISBN-10: 0674057236
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674057236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674057234
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just chanced upon this book. Justice Stevens had an article in the New York Review of Books (December, 2010), which turned out to be a review of this book, that was mentioned in the New York Times in an article on Justice Stevens and the death penalty. I'm about halfway though, and find Garland wrestling with one of the more difficult issues: why so many people in the United States are in favor of the death penalty. It's the kind of finely-textured analysis that I like, rich in detail while maintaining a clear overarching structure.

I was surprised to see the review that criticized this book for ignoring issues about the rights of individual states. Garland seems clearly sensitive to this issue and his analysis is nuanced in regard to states, the death sentence, and executions. This is simply puzzling to me that someone would object on this level. It was this prior review that prompted me to write this--the first time I've written an Amazon review.

Occasionally, I felt Garland was repetitive, announcing what he was going to do, telling the reading when he was doing it, and then summarizing by telling us he had done it.

One minor quibble about the Kindle edition: I couldn't directly access the footnotes from the body of the text. I would have to bookmark my current location, go to the Table of Contents, read the notes, then go back to the menu to find my bookmark. In an age of hypertext, this seems like extraordinarily poor design. Given the high price of the book from HUP, this is particularly annoying.

Incidentally, in the notes I would have liked to have seen some references to more recent empirical work on the race of victims in (a) charging crimes as capital offenses and (b) actual sentencing patterns.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
no problems, exactly what I ordered
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great!
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By Pauline S on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not drab nor boring. I really enjoyed reading it, came in good quality and really fast !
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Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely well written and well researched book. What it isn't is well reasoned. The singular issue Garland can't take to heart is that the US is comprised of 50 states, each with it's own criminal justice system and with disparate social conditions. Yet throughout, Garland seems to focus on singular national data and standards. It seems impossible to Garland to accept the possibility that the US can have different societies within the national society that have different demogrpaphics, values, priorities and attitudes that are based upon longstanding mindsets not necessarily informed by racism or discrimination.

The failure to accept that basic principle is crucial to the philosophical underpinnings of the book.

It's a shame, because such a deeply researched and otherwise well written book had an opportunity to add something new to the conversation about capital punishment. Instead, it's just another voice in the chorus of those who oppose the death penalty regardless of any opposite argument.
10 Comments 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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