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American Methods

Torture and the Logic of Domination

Kristian Williams

Pages: 240
ISBN: 0-89608-753-0
Format: Paper
Release Date: 2006-04-12

Purchase for $24.00

Description of American Methods.

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Abner Louima. Abu Ghraib. The Humboldt Five. Extraordinary Rendition. Lynchings. School Of The Americas. Prison Rape.

Whether or not it makes front-page news, make no mistake: Torture is an everyday tool of dominance and terror in the United States. On the heels of Our Enemies in Blue, his controversial chronicle of policing, Kristian Williams once again upsets the notion that “excessive force” by the state is anything but altogether American.

American Methods is a damning audit of the US record in underwriting human rights violations around the globe. In the last 25 years alone and under several administrations, we confront death squads in El Salvador, genocidal campaigns in Turkey, brutal interrogations done on our dime, even in our name by various “friendly governments,” and more. Returning to our shores, Williams observes the banality of violence at home—on both sides of the prison wall. What emerges is the distinct character of American torture, particularly its emphasis on sexual violence, misogyny, and racialized spectacle.

Ultimately, American Methods offers devastating conclusions about the centrality of rape, racism, and conquest to both the state and our national culture.


"In horrifyingly impeccable detail, author Kristian Williams argues that US policymaking, even before Sept. 11, actually pivots on the use of torture. He shows how US torture tactics in Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, and US prisons are strikingly similar, employing systematized racism, misogyny, and rape ... American Methods cogently gives the reader evidence of how the US uses torture to control society and to protect US hegemony, compelling us to rethink power and to question the terror enacted in the name of democracy."

“Kristian Williams peels away the mythic veneer of American Innocence with an eloquence, power, and precision that stands largely unrivaled. The result is a book which not only deserves, but quite literally demands inclusion among the handful of works essential to understanding where it is we find ourselves at this awful moment in history. Read it if you dare, and especially if you don’t.”
—Ward Churchill, author of A Little Matter of Genocide and On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

American Methods shines an unmediated light on this country’s use of torture as an essential component of social control, both at home and abroad. Williams’s exhaustive analysis exposes a history of routine brutality in US police, military, and prison interrogation practices. He deftly makes the case that the Abu Ghraib scandal was not an aberrant experiment...

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