Josh Kurtz

Josh Kurtz covers state government and politics for the Montgomery
County Gazette
in Maryland.

Recent Articles

The American Way of Death

The Death Penalty: An American History By Stuart Banner. Harvard University Press, 385 pages, $29.95 W arning: This book is not for the squeamish. With graphic accounts of snapped necks and roasted flesh and rabidlike reactions to lethal injections, Stuart Banner spares no detail in describing American methods of execution. Yet Banner's timely book on the history of capital punishment in America manages to be free from sensationalism. It is comprehensively researched, with a calm and modulated narrative style. He covers everything from American attitudes toward the death penalty through the years, to the legislative and judicial debates over capital punishment, to the life (and death) of a condemned criminal, to the techniques of execution and the occasional glitches that bring to mind the phrase "cruel and unusual." Despite the emotion swirling around this issue, Banner, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, takes such a balanced and fact-oriented approach...