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A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror
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A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"An indispensable and riveting account" of the CIA's development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation)

In this revelatory account of the CIA's fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert progr
Paperback, 310 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by St. Martins Press-3PL
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 ·  219 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Abu Ghraib, immagine tristemente celebre, rimbalzata ovunque. Ma mai abbastanza.

Il primo capitolo si chiama “duemila anni di tortura” e già la dice lunga su questa pratica umana molto inumana.
Però, fin qui siamo nell’universalmente noto.
Il secondo capitolo ha un titolo ancora più inquietante: “il controllo della mente”.
È forse con il nazismo che la tortura diventa una scienza: o meglio, il risclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Simon Wood
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Alfred McCoy wrote this short history of the use of torture by the United States in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal that erupted in 2004, which along with various other scandals relating to the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, American prison camps in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Airbase and a number of other locations, dogged the US government for a number of years.

McCoy starts with a cursory account of Tortures lengthy pedigree in Europe and
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book really spells it all out for ya. I just read it over the past two days and it's informative and enraging, but also somewhat graphic. I suppose that's to be expected though.
I didn't realize that the brand of torture used today that's so invasive and so crippling was developed 50 years ago and been in use this whole time. Absolutely disgusting and deplorable. I also didn't know that the CIA in project Phoenix in Vietnam tortured and then outright murdered 20,000 vietnamese people,
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Here is one good reason to read this book:

I do not think that Colonel Jacobs intended to make any kind of a comment on torture. But the paranoia he claims is helpful for our national defense is the same paranoia that allowed for the creation of torture programs by the CIA. The specifics of the CIA programs are honestly terrifying (testing on unknowing US citizens, the size of the programs all over the world, etc) and
Chi Dubinski
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
The CIA spent billions of dollars over the years developing psychological tools for interrogation. They funded a study on the effects of electroshocks and recruited a former Nazi scientist who had administered mescaline to Jewish prisoners at Dachau. Studies show that cheap, simple methods work best (enforced standing) and are more acceptable to the public. Booklist called this title “timely and compelling.”
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mind-control-cia, cia
Enjoyable read of the history of torture with focal points on the Vietnam era CIA program, Operation Phoenix, and since this was written in 2006, the amorphous Bush White House torture policies that resulted in many prisoners who in the words of the book are "too dangerous to release and too tainted for trial".

Looking forward to reading his 2012 work Torture And Impunity as a follow up.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This documents how the U.S. and the American Psychological Association conspired to invent the first new form of torture known to mankind in the past 1000 years, and how any other "political view" is either tacitly irrational at best or maliciously culpable at worst.
Tim Lundquist
Thorough overview of development of CIA interrogation practices developed from modern psychology, and its use over the past five decades
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Don't walk to get this book, RUN.
Steve Callahan
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Our CIA has a long history of using torture and murder against our suspected enemies. A problem is 90% of the suspects they round up are innocent or very low operatives who know very little. Anybody else remember the stories of prisoners being beaten, electrocuted, hung by chains, waterboarded, put in damp, rat infested cells, having food withheld and thrown out of airplanes over Vietnam to their death? The author calls it "pump and dump" or torture followed by killing so they didn't have to dea ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Gut-wrenching succinct history connecting CIA research into psychological torture through an escalating coercive path that we all kind of know (countering-with-terror in Vietnam, training police and counter-guerilla regimes in Iran, Latin America, and the Philippines) to the Bush admin's decision to suspend the Geneva conventions for Afghanistan and Guantanamo detainees (under a fearfully strong desire to enable torture) and more broadly encourage CIA extraordinary rendition and participation in ...more
Stephen Cranney
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: required_reading
I felt he occasionally exaggerated things (making somebody stand for four hours is not "torture"), but overall an important read.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
A dated but insightful and readable book on the CIA’s involvement in researching and utilizing interrogation methods both traditional and controversial. Of course, it is rather dated at this point, given the wealth of new information available since the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s own study in 2014. The book sells itself as a history of CIA interrogation practices and abuses; instead it comes off as a general condemnation of all coercive interrogation methods.

Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
As I was finishing the Shock Doctrine, I found this. Mind you, I didn't pick it up and drop the Shock Doctrine. No no. I just read the intro. It was a freakin' teaser! So after the shock doctrine was done I jumped right into this. It's a really well researched piece and definitely gave more foundation for the things Klein opened with in her book. There were times when I was annoyed with the author because I think he assumes the consciousness of Americans (why didn't they do anything) and yet the ...more
Kaylan O'byrne
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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It covers the last fifty years of American research into torture, primarily psychological and discusses how these techniques have been disseminated to military, intelligence and law enforcement entities. McCoy describes the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay as examples of America's contribution to the ancient art of torture. It is part of a series of books called The American Empire Project, which includes a contribution from Noam Chomsky.

Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
McCoy documents torture used by US government agencies. It existed decades before George W Bush's stay in the white house. Besides being as despicable and barbaric as slavery, torture doesn't even work. Someone being tortured will tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear to get you to stop. Please visit a center for survivors of torture somewhere.
Nate Hendrix
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Scary view of what the government is allowed to do to whom ever they want.
Erik Madsen
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Skillfully written, clearly argued, meticulously documented. A must-read; HIGHLY recommended.
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People interested in torture???
This was a quick interesting read. I feel like it was really biased but that might just be because I don't want to believe that anyone is capable of the things described in this book.
Concrete Woman
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Dr Alfred W. McCoy is professor of SE Asian History at the U. of Wisconsin at Madison where he also serves as director of the Center for SE Asian Studies, a federally-funded National Resource Center. He's spent the past quarter-century writing about the politics & history of the opium trade. In addition to publications, he serves as a correspondent for the Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues ...more