In the Arena

Weekend Book Club–An Occasional Feature

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I’ve read two very good books about the inefficacy of torture recently, one fiction and one nonfiction.

The novel is David Ignatius’ Body of Lies, which isn’t really about torture–but it does include some fascinating descriptions of how the Jordanian intelligence service elicits information from prisoners without resorting to violence. Ignatius has written a terrific string of novels set in the middle east…and the tradecraft described in this, his latest, is spectacular.

Fear Up Harsh is a non-fiction account of the disastrous techniques actually used by the U.S. military in Iraq by a former military interrogator named Tony Lagouranis. Much of this stuff is already known–in the abstract–but reading about the effects of stress positions, harassment, waterboarding and so forth on actual human beings is infuriating, especially when contrasted with the more sophisticated and effective techniques that Ignatius describes.

While I’m pretty much sated on torture accounts at the moment, I’d be interested in any recommendations readers might have in this field….