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The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Torture is an open secret in Chicago. Nobody in power wants to acknowledge this grim reality, but everyone knows it happens—and that the torturers are the police. Three to five new claims are submitted to the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission of Illinois each week. Four hundred cases are currently pending investigation. Between 1972 and 1991, at least 125 black suspect ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by University of Chicago Press
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NOTICE: The University of Chicago Press is making this ebook available for free until June 6th, 2020.

Go to this link — — and give them an email address. I think they'll use it to offer you a free ebook every month thereafter? If you're paranoid, give them a burner email, although the final .acsm file will require ‘activation’ via Adobe, so you'll need to create a fake account there, soo.
Never Without a Book
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I completed this book days ago and I'm still in tears. This God. read it. ...more
Before we have a conversation about the “justice system” in the United States: mandatory reading.

We’re just now beginning to reckon with the militarization of police, not to mention the racism or corruption, but let’s talk about how four decades in CPD gets you a job at Guantanamo. How public school kids had to travel to the UN in Geneva to get their case heard— only to be dismissed and insulted by the DOJ. How this was published in January 2020 but still doesn’t talk about Homan Square or poli
Hannah Lin
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jessica Rodrigues
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction, arc
When approaching a nonfiction book about such a heavy topic written by a Princeton University professor, it's normal to assume that it's going to be a slow and difficult read. But in this case, you would be wrong.

Written as a series of open letters to victims, witnesses, and past and future leaders of Chicago, the book focuses on the (unfortunately radical) premise that torture is ALWAYS wrong, whether the victim is a wrongly accused innocent or a "bad guy." It is an engrossing page turner, and
Rebecca Crunden
Jun 02, 2020 marked it as started-and-need-to-finish
Need to get back to this one.
CKQ Malone
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The central themes of this book are twofold: torture persists in Chicago because of the complicity of people in power, and it persists in the United States because of our history of violence against populations we perceive as threatening to us. These twinned ideas come together in the image of the torture tree.”

Laurence Ralph, Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University, in his second book illuminating a kind of violence in the city of Chicago, details a pernicious cycle of abuse and
Niklas Pivic
The worst bit about this book, is that it can't make up its mind whether to be a research-form paper or a spoken-word performance.

The good bits—nota bene: plural—make up for that.

This is a book that delves into systemic torture performed by police; the author focuses on Chicago, USA, which is simply symptomatic of systematic torture not only performed in the USA but all over the world where unchecked fascist rule is enabled. The book also goes into other areas where not only police are involved,
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Indictment of a corrupt and disfunctional culture. Chicago is the example, USA is the country. Presented in a somewhat dispassionate/academic style but successfully delivers the message.
"In one of my favorite stories about the We Charge Genocide petition is how that document actually reached the United Nations. I find the story so unbelievable that I have always wanted to ask you whether it’s true.
In 1951, the General Assembly had not yet moved to its new UN headquarters in New York, so to pres
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a brutal read - the text itself isn't difficult to understand. Ralph crafts a series of open letters to different audiences in Chicago and beyond to discuss torture, genocide, and humanity. I was surprised it was such a quick read, because that's never what I expect from ethnographic texts. It bears repeating though - it is a brutal read. It never gets too explicit, but to begin to comprehend the depth and the widespread nature of violence against Black communities in Chicago at the hand ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read. Ralph discusses institutional racism within the police force and the elements of society that need to be tackled so that racism can be eliminated. There is a specific focus on the Chicago Police department and its history of torture.

This book is not an easy read, it forces you to face some ugly truths about the society we live in and the way we have failed to deconstruct a racist society. Ralph does, however, offer hope and a direction in which we can move forward.
Madison Allen
no rating because i read this book for a class. but this book is incredibly moving and accessible. i highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in police “misconduct” and how the police and the military go hand in hand. please pick up this book if you’re interested in learning about how the police works in our society
Jun 02, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, non-fiction, race
Currently free from University of Chicago Press until June 6, 2020. Requires an email address and Adobe Digital Editions to download or you can read it in your browser. ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2020
Strong 4.5, looking at how police violence is endemic to policing and its connections to wider military-level torture as well. Very readable.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Chicago is the most segregated large city in the states. And to that effect, bias aggression.
Eavan Wong
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
*How to write with embodied pain and care.
The U Chicago Press offers a free ebook every month, which I’m signed up to; usually I don’t read them, but this one seemed extremely apt. Ralph conducted an oral history/anthropological survey of people—mostly African-American men—who have experienced torture at the hands of the Chicago PD over the course of forty years. It’s a tough read, and sometimes repetitive (he structures most of the book as a series of open letters), but it’s illuminating about the struggles that people in a particular ...more
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Laurence Ralph is a Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. Before that, he was a Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at Harvard University, where he taught for nearly a decade. He earned his Ph.D. (2010) and Masters of Arts degrees (2006) in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree (2004) from Georgia Institute of Technology, wher ...more

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