Gruesome Spectacles

Gruesome Spectacles

Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty

By Austin Sarat; Sarat Austin

Stanford Law Books, Hardcover, 9780804789165, 288pp.

Publication Date: April 30, 2014

Description
"Gruesome Spectacles" tells the sobering history of botched, mismanaged, and painful executions in the U.S. from 1890 to the present. Since the book's initial publication in 2014, the cruel and unusual executions of a number of people on death row, including Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma and Joseph Wood in Arizona, have made headlines and renewed vigorous debate surrounding the death penalty in America. Austin Sarat's book instantly became an essential resource for citizens, scholars, and lawmakers interested in capital punishmenteven the Supreme Court, which cited the book in its recent opinion, "Glossip v. Gross."
Now in paperback, the book includes a new preface outlining the latest twists and turns in the death penalty debate, including the recent galvanization of citizens and leaders alike as recent botched executions have unfolded in the press. Sarat argues that unlike in the past, today's botched executions seem less like inexplicable mishaps and more like the latest symptoms of a death penalty machinery in disarray. "Gruesome Spectacles" traces the historical evolution of methods of execution, from hanging or firing squad to electrocution to gas and lethal injection. Even though each of these technologies was developed to "perfect" state killing by decreasing the chance of a cruel death, an estimated three percent of all American executions went awry in one way or another. Sarat recounts the gripping and truly gruesome stories of some of these deathsstories obscured by history and to some extent, the popular press.


About the Author
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence Political Science at Amherst College and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin and JD from Yale Law School. He is former President of the Law and Society Association; former President of the Association for the Study of the Law, Culture and the Humanities; and President of the Consortium of Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs. He is author or editor of more than fifty books, including Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution; When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition; Something to Believe in: Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyers (with Stuart Scheingold); and The Blackwell Companion to Law and Society, amongst many others. Sarat is editor of the journal Law, Culture and the Humanities and of Studies in Law, Politics and Society. His public writing has appeared in such places as the Los Angeles Times and the American Prospect, and he has been a guest on National Public Radio, The News Hour, Odyssey, The Abrams Report on MSNBC, World News Tonight on ABC, and The O'Reilly Factor. His teaching has been featured in the New York Times and on The Today Show. In 1997, Sarat received the Harry Kalven Award given by the Law Society Association for distinguished research on law and society. In 2004, he received the 2004 Reginald Heber Smith Award, given biennially to honor the best scholarship on the subject of equal access to justice. It was given in recognition of his work on cause lawyering and the three books he has produced on the subject. In 2006, the Association for the Study of Law Culture and the Humanities awarded him the James Boyd White Prize for distinguished scholarly achievement in recognition of his 'innovative and outstanding' work in the humanistic study of law.