Torture and the Law of Proof

Europe and England in the Ancien Régime

John H. Langbein

Torture and the Law of Proof
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John H. Langbein

240 pages | 8 line drawings | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1976, 1977
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226468945 Published August 2006
E-book $7.00 to $22.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226922614 Published April 2012
In Torture and the Law of Proof John H. Langbein explores the world of the thumbscrew and the rack, engines of torture authorized for investigating crime in European legal systems from medieval times until well into the eighteenth century. Drawing on juristic literature and legal records, Langbein's book, first published in 1977, remains the definitive account of how European legal systems became dependent on the use of torture in their routine criminal procedures, and how they eventually worked themselves free of it.

The book has recently taken on an eerie relevance as a consequence of controversial American and British interrogation practices in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In a new introduction, Langbein contrasts the "new" law of torture with the older European law and offers some pointed lessons about the difficulty of reconciling coercion with accurate investigation. Embellished with fascinating illustrations of torture devices taken from an eighteenth-century criminal code, this crisply written account will engage all those interested in torture's remarkable grip on European legal history.
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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