[UCP Books]: Payback: The Case for Revenge

“A compelling and provocative book.”

Scott Turow

 Payback
The Case for Revenge

Thane Rosenbaum
 

Publication date: May 1, 2013 Cloth $26.00/£18.00
International Publication Date: May 6, 2013  ISBN-13: 978-0-226-72661-8

 

We call it justice—the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the incarceration of corrupt politicians or financiers like Rod Blagojevich and Bernard Madoff, and the climactic slaying of cinema-screen villains by superheroes. But could we not also call it revenge? We are told that revenge is uncivilized and immoral, an impulse that individuals and societies should actively repress and replace with the order and codes of courtroom justice. What, if anything, distinguishes punishment at the hands of the government from a victim’s individual desire for retribution? Are vengeance and justice really so very different? No, answers legal scholar and novelist Thane Rosenbaum in Payback: The Case for Revenge—revenge is, in fact, indistinguishable from justice. 
 
Revenge, Rosenbaum argues, is not the problem. It is, in fact, a perfectly healthy emotion. Instead, the problem is the inadequacy of lawful outlets through which to express it. In fact, the legal system would better serve the public if it gave victims the sense that vengeance was being done on their behalf. Rosenbaum draws on popular culture, recent studies in behavioral psychology and neuroeconomics, and stories of revenge practices from around the world, to argue that vengeance needs to be more openly and honestly discussed and lawfully practiced. Fiercely argued and highly engaging, Payback is an eye-opening cultural tour of revenge and its rewards—from Shakespeare to The Sopranos.
 
Thane Rosenbaum is the author of The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What’s Right, as well as four novels. His articles, reviews, and essays appear frequently in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Daily Beast, and Huffington Post, among others. He is also the John Whelan Distinguished Lecturer in Law at Fordham Law School and directs the Forum on Law, Culture, and Society. He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu

 

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