Rejali's approach is to track the different behaviors, trends and traditions in torture throughout history to see who influenced whom and what they did...Rejali, a leading expert on government interrogation techniques, reaches key conclusions. First, monitoring by human rights groups doesn't stop torture, it simply causes torturers to resort to techniques that don't scar...Second, most contemporary torture traditions were passed on like crafts from teacher to apprentice...Third, Rejali writes, a person being tortured is likely to say whatever he thinks his captors want to hear, making it one of the poorest methods of gathering reliable information.
(Laurel Maury Los Angeles Times
)Torture and Democracy
immediately lays claim to be the most compendious and the most rigorous treatment of the subject yet written. Saul Bellow used to say that we are constantly looking for the book it is necessary to read next. On torture, this is it...Torture and Democracy
is the anatomy of sneaky. Rejali regales us with tales of every technique of torture known to man...Rejali's analysis of efficacy is exemplary: at once prudent and trenchant, historically alert and morally sentient.
(Alex Danchev Times Higher Education
[A] magisterial study of torture and how it has developed as a social and moral issue with a focus on developments through the last century.
(Scott Horton Harper's Magazine
An exhaustive study of...'clean tortures,' or tortures that leave no permanent scars. Electrotorture, water tortures, stress and duress positions, beating, noise, drugs and forced exercises all make an appearance. The book is a towering achievement, a serious work of social science on an urgent topic that is too frequently surrounded by assumption and myth. It should be read and disseminated widely...The book is devoted to exploding one myth in particular: that clean tortures can casually and reliably be traced to the ancients, or, failing that, to the Nazis. Rejali's provocative thesis is that most clean tortures were actually born in democracies, especially imperial Britain and France.
(Michael O'Donnell San Francisco Chronicle
)Torture and Democracy
is a much-needed attempt to put our discussions on a firmer historical and conceptual footing while showing us the realities of what torture is and what it does. Based on a decade of research and approximately 2,000 sources in 14 languages, Torture and Democracy
is really several books in one. It is a methodical history of what Rejali calls 'clean' or 'stealth' torture (torture that leaves no marks) in the 20th century; a sociological examination of torture's relationship to democracies; a psychological exploration of torture's impact on societies and individuals; a practical consideration of torture's effectiveness; a philosophical musing on the ethics of torture and interrogation in general; an exhaustive cataloguing of tortures used throughout the ages; and what Rejali calls 'a reliable sourcebook' for those who speak out against torture anywhere.
(Michael McGregor The Oregonian
[Creates] what essentially amounts to an epidemiology of torture. Just as scientists were able to show how HIV traveled around the world by mapping the locatino and date of each outbreak of AIDS, Rejali similarly documents the global transmission of major torture techniquest by drawing up a chronology of their occurrence . . . Rejali's accomplishment--and it's a considerable one--is to lay out this vast amount of information to demonstrate patterns few had noticed before.
(Brian Zabcik American Lawyer
Documenting modern torture techniques, [Torture and Democracy
] is both horrifying and compelling. The consequences of torture are always unpredictable and Rejali argues that torture fails when it's needed most--in last-minute, ticking bomb scenarios.
(Karen J. Greenberg Financial Times
Dozens of books about torture have been published over the last five years. But none compare to Torture and Democracy
for its richly detailed comparative analysis, and its synthesis of historical, psychological, medical, forensic, sociological, and political information to explain what torture is, what it does to victims and perpetrators, and why and how it spreads. . . . Rejali has earned the right to speak authoritatively about the most important question of all: Does torture work? His answer, like his book, is profound, complex, and supported by a wealth of empirical detail.
(Lisa Hajjar Arab Studies Journal
)Torture and Democracy
, the fruit of a lifetime's study should dispel much ignorance and frequently facile assumptions about the subject.
(David Bentley World Today
Darius Rejali's Torture and Democracy
, a decade in the making, will be the canonical source text for information on, and the historical confirmation of, the democratic pedigree of tortures that leave no mark.
(z Z. Huq. "World Policy Journal
Sprawling, essential. . . . A massive dictionary of the unspeakable.
(Gary Bass Dissent
Rejali's consolidation of the available data on torture is certainly an admirable and relevant task. What is especially provocative and essential about Rejali's scholarship is that he forces readers to retreat from the minutiae of political debates surrounding torture and asks us to examine the larger contextual picture.
(Shana Tabak Democracy & Society
This book is quite simply the most authoritative study of torture ever written. Twenty-five years of painstaking research in the making, it will serve the human rights movement for decades to come.
(George Hunsinger Theology Today
The book suits well as an introduction to the topic of torture (techniques) throughout the world from the 20th century until today. . . . [T]he first two parts of the opus offer a vast amount of information on the historical and technical development of torture across many different states.
(Daniela Kaschel Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict