Books on Criminal Law


April 10, 2023

345. Books on criminal law

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Further Reading:

Kevin Boyle Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, 2004.

The story of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a Black man who moved into an all-white neighborhood in Detroit in 1925, is retold by historian Kevin Boyle. Sweet killed a white man in self-defense and was charged with murder. Clarence Darrow and the newly formed NAACP fought the resulting court trial.

David R. Dow The Autobiography of an Execution, 2010.

Law professor, David R. Dow shares his objections to the death penalty and the stories of death row inmates. While he’s not sympathetic with the guilty inmate, he still argues that we pay the price for our complicity in these executions.

Lawrence M. Friedman Crime and Punishment in American History, 1993.

Renowned legal historian Lawrence M. Friedman covers the history of America’s criminal justice system.

Anthony Gregory The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror, 2013.

Habeas Corpus began in medieval England. Anthony Gregory traces its history to America today. He demonstrates how the writ for protection can be used to uphold power at the expense of liberty.

Michael J. Kelly Prosecuting Corporations for Genocide, 2016.

While modern corporations have great rights, Michael J. Kelly explains why their obligations to the people they interact with do not align with those rights and powers. He shows that corporate entities are sometimes getting away with murder on a mass scale.

Evan J. Mandery A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, 2014.

In 1972, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s death penalty in Furman v. Georgia, paving the way to make capital punishment illegal in America. But the pushback was so swift and severe that in 1976, it reversed its decision in Gregg v. Georgia. Evan J. Mandery looks behind the scenes at how the court operates.

Sam Roberts The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case, 2001.

During the Cold War, husband and wife Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in Sing Sing after their conviction for stealing atomic secrets for the U.S.S.R. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, had been a Soviet spy himself. It was his testimony that sealed the Rosenbergs’ fate. Sam Roberts interviewed Greenglass and others to determine what happened.

Cara Robertson The Trial of Lizzie Borden, 2019.

Legal scholar Cara Robertson examined transcripts of Lizzie Borden’s murder trial, which took place after her father and stepmother’s death by hatchet blows in 1892. She writes the definitive version of what happened and why on that August day in Fall River, Massachusetts by looking at local newspaper articles, lawyer’s journals, local reports, and Lizzie’s letters.

Bruce Wright Black Robes, White Justice, 1987.

Criminal court judge Bruce Wright looks at how our criminal justice system is set up unfairly for Black Americans. There are many reasons for the partiality, and he offers suggestions to balance the scales of justice.

For more information on the Further Reading series, see Further Reading: Start Here.

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