10/01/2010 12:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Death Penalty A 'Strange Social Fact' Requiring An 'Explanation': David Garland's New Book 'Peculiar Institution'

In its discussion of America's death penalty, Peculiar Institution diverges from the familiar cultural script that shapes most of our conversation. Instead of treating capital punishment as a moral dilemma to be debated, a policy problem to be resolved, or a constitutional question to be settled, the book approaches the institution as a strange social fact that stands in need of explanation.