Saturday, June 11, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Illustrated History of Torture

Title: The Illustrated History of Torture

Author: Jack Vernon

Publisher: Carlton Books

RRP: $39.99

ISBN: 9781847328380

Release Date: July 2011



This illustrated guide to the ethics, history and practice of torture features removable facsimile items and offers a wide perspective on the barbaric practice of torture from its earliest recorded iterations to modern-day travesties, such as detainee treatment at Guantanamo Bay.

Torture has a way of making the ordinary seem sinister. Objects that are pleasurable or useful in their everyday contexts, have all been deployed with chilling ingenuity by the world's torturers in recent times. From Ancient Egypt to the current War on Terror, and including the Roman Empire, the Colonial Period, Nazi Germany, Vietnam and South America, this fully illustrated book will examine what constitutes torture, the etymology of torture terms, whether torture can ever be justified and whether it can ever be said to be successful. Through 15 removable facsimile items, "Torture" will also explore the various means of torture that have been employed, national and international laws concerning torture and the effects of torture to reveal the human face of this shocking practice.

About the Author

Jack Vernon has been a freelance writer for ten years, specializing in television. He lives in north London.


Illustrated History of Torture is a very brief account of some of the most commonly known events in mankind’s history where torture has been publicly used to extract information or false confessions. There are historical records of events such as the Spanish Inquisition, persecution of Christians and some more recent eras such as Germany’s persecution of the Jews.

The book is broken into five sections;

Section 1: Early empires: Beating, Whipping and Stoning; Mutilation; Flaying; Scaphism;

Section 2: Greek and Roman Eras:Boiling, frying and roasting; Crucifixion; Gladiators;

Section 3 The Middle Ages: Trial by Ordeal; Hanging, Drawing and Quatering; Inquisitions; Strappado; Breaking; Cutting and Sawing; Crushing; Water Tortures; Piercing; Impalement;

Section 4 Early Modern Era: Witch Hunts; Burning and Branding; Flogging;

Section 5 Modern Era: Wartime Torture; Drugs/Psychochemical; Electric Shock Torture; Necklacing; Psychological Torture; Waterboarding; Translations/Further Reading/List of Torture locations;

The images are not too horrific as they are mainly drawings or non-confrontational, so if you were hoping for images such as seen in movies like SAW or The Hostel, then you won’t find them here.

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