Torture is associated most closely with the absolute monarchies of history and the totalitarian and dictatorial regimes of the more recent past and present day. The classical world employed it widely though by no means indiscriminately, while in the West it doesn’t seem to have been used systematically until the medieval era. After the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, Western countries began banning it – though actual practice didn’t necessarily keep pace with official legislation. And in recent years such democratic countries as Denmark, the UK, and the United States have all, it is claimed, strayed over the boundary between justifiably close and actually abusive questioning. The Instruments of Torture examines the techniques and tools used in torture, ranging from the earliest known historical instances of the practice right up to today’s allegations of torture in Abu Ghraib Prison and Guantanamo Bay. The different methods of inflicting pain are grouped by type (stretching, for instance, having been used particularly in the European Renaissance as well as still being widespread in the Middle East), showing the stark parallels in torture throughout history as used in different cultures and contexts.
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