Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Five books on torture

Juan E. Méndez is a visiting professor of law at the American University, Washington College of Law, and the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. A native of Argentina, Mr Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defence of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested him and subjected him to torture and administrative detention for more than a year.

At The Browser, he discussed five books on torture with Daisy Banks, including:
by George Orwell

Finally you have chosen a classic, 1984 by George Orwell.

I think torture is not just the physical torture that we all associate with the word. It is also several forms of psychological and mental torture that can happen even on a massive scale.

Of course 1984 came and went and we didn’t have the kind of dramatic tyranny George Orwell predicted. But, perhaps we didn’t have it in 1984 because of his book 35 years earlier. I think it does alert us to the danger of unfettered state power, which under any circumstance always ends up committing violations against individuals and particularly the kind of violation that we associate with the word torture.
Read about the other books on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is #7 on a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best rats in literature and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue