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However repugnant, torture has been practised, either publicly approved or clandestinely, for thousands of years. From the rack to electrodes, from witch-hunts to the Inquisition to a post-colonial world, torture is something we have always lived with.

In a new updated edition,The History of Torture tells the complete story, from the ancient world to the present day, from physical cruelty to mental torment. The rack may be thought of as something medieval, but was first written about in ancient Greece, thumbscrews were introduced to western Europe from Russia in the 17th century, and with the 20th century came the use of electricity and hallucinogenic drugs to elicit confessions.

Ranging from the ancient world to World War II, from the war in Algeria (1954–62) to the torture of the IRA in Northern Ireland, from the torture of Native Americans to India, China, Japan and Cambodia’s Killing Fields, the book also details the torture that has taken place since 9/11, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Guantanamo Bay.

Meticulously researched, The History of Torture is illustrated with more than 100 etchings, paintings and photographs. It offers a remarkable overview of the uses and abuses of power, both within and outside the legal system.

Format: 240 x 189mm (9¼ x 7½”)
Extent: 192pp
Illustrations: 110 b/w photos
Text: 60,000 words
ISBN: 9781782745198

A previous edition (ISBN: 9781856054645) is no longer in print.

Author details:

Brian Innes was trained as a scientist and worked as a biochemical researcher before turning to writing. His books include Bodies of Evidence – a broad-ranging survey of the historical development of forensic science – and Profile of a Criminal Mind. He died in 2014.