Preface

In 2001, I returned to Iran after twenty-four years. This was in itself a risky undertaking. As a feisty publisher said to me, “Dr. Rejali! How nice to meet you! How did you get in? How do you plan to get out?” I had, after all, written a book on modern Iranian torture. On my first day back, still disoriented by travel, I had a further shock. Like all others who have had their lives disrupted, my first instinct was to see the place I used to live. The house no longer existed, of course. The taxi driver chose a route that went right by the gates of the notorious prison at Evin. It had figured prominently in my book, and to see it again and the crowds of anxious relatives milling in front of it, was bracing. Adjacent to it now was a large garden that was rented out for weddings and other festive occasions. I asked about it. “Oh,” said the taxi driver, “that is to make it easy for everybody. First you have a wedding and then everybody gets arrested and taken next door!”

Iranians relate to torture as a familiar event of modern life. They know it exists, and they never imagine that it is logically incompatible with telephones, central heating, weddings, elections, and other occasions of modern life. I grew up this way as well. Perhaps this Iranian attitude arose from centuries of violence as successive civilizations burned through the country. The summer I returned, I climbed out to Turab Tapeh, the remains of the great medieval city of Neishabur, with its thirteen libraries and the world's only international university of its time, except Al Azhar in Cairo. In 1221, Mongols executed all 1,747,000 inhabitants and every cat and dog in the city. Historians record about 5 million deaths throughout the region. Neishabur was but one of many places that was devastated; entire cities disappeared. Archaeologists dub a whole section

-xv-

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Torture and Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Torture and Democracy xxv
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Torture and Democracy 33
  • 1: Modern Torture and Its Observers 35
  • 2: Torture and Democracy 45
  • II - Remembering Stalinism and Nazism 65
  • 3: Lights, Heat, and Sweat 69
  • 4: Whips and Water 91
  • 5: Bathtubs 108
  • III - A History of Electric Stealth 121
  • 6: Shock 123
  • 7: Magnetos 144
  • 8: Currents 167
  • 9: Singing the World Electric 190
  • 10: Prods, Tasers, and Stun Guns 225
  • 11: Stun City 239
  • IV - Other Stealth Traditions 259
  • 12: Sticks and Bones 269
  • 13: Water, Sleep, and Spice 279
  • 14: Stress and Duress 294
  • 15: Forced Standing and Other Positions 316
  • 16: Fists and Exercises 334
  • 17: Old and New Restraints 347
  • 18: Noise 360
  • 19: Drugs and Doctors 385
  • V - Politics and Memory 403
  • 20: Supply and Demand for Clean Torture 405
  • 21: Does Torture Work? 446
  • 22: What the Apologists Say 480
  • 23: Why Governments Don't Learn 519
  • 24: The Great Age of Torture in Modern Memory 537
  • A - A List of Clean Tortures 553
  • B - Issues of Method 557
  • C - Organization and Explanations 566
  • D - A Note on Sources for American Torture During the Vietnam War 581
  • Notes 593
  • Selected Bibliography 781
  • Index 819
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