Gruesome Spectacles -- Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty by Austin Sarat, Stanford Law Books '14, 273 pages, ASIN #0804789169. Index, notes, two appendices, unillustrated.
"On September 28, 1900, the state of North Carolina hanged Art Kinsauls for a murder committed in Sampson County. Born in that county in 1865, Kinsauls had lived there his entire life, marrying a local girl, Posunnie Gibsy Bass, in 1896. Even though Art weighed only 110 pounds, he was said to be 'tough as iron.' He had the unfortunate habit of getting into violent arguments and carried on a long running feud with John C. Herring, his neighbor.
"One night when Kinsauls was in Art Vann's Store at Beaman's Crossroad, an argument began and then a fight broke out. 'Kinsauls reached into the meat box and got a sharp butcher knife and stabbed young Herring to such an extent that he died during the night.
"Kinsauls was arrested a few days after Herring's death and taken to the county jail in Clinton. With the help of a group of his friends, he soon escaped, and avoided capture for nine months. The sheriff and a posse only recaptured him after a gunfight at his farm, which left him seriously wounded. Brought to trial in October 1899, Kinsauls was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to hang."
Author Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Amherst College. He has written numerous previous books and has also written for academic and trade publications.
Near and Distant Neighbors -- A New History of Soviet Intelligence by Jonathan Haslam, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 15, $30, 366 pages, ASIN #0374219907. Index, bibliography, notes, two appendices, unillustrated except for two maps.
From the dust jacket:
"A uniquely comprehensive and rich account of the Soviet intelligence services, Jonathan Haslam's Near and Distant Neighbors charts the labyrinthine story of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War.
"Previous histories have focused on the KGB, leaving military intelligence and the special service -- which focused on codes and ciphers -- lurking in the shadows. Drawing on previously neglected Russian sources, Haslam reveals how both were in fact crucial to the survival of the Soviet state.
"This was especially true after Stalin's death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon -- Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean -- were betrayed. In the wake of these failures, Nikita Khrushchev and his successors discarded ideological recruitment in favor of blackmail and bribery. The tactical turn was so successful that we can draw only one conclusion: the West ultimately triumphed despite, not because of, the espionage war."
Author Jonathan Haslam is the George F. Kennan Professor at the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. he is also a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a professor emeritus of Cambridge University.
Alfred Wallis -- Cornish Primitive Painter by Edwin Mullins, Unicorn Press Ltd. '15 paperback, in oversized format on glossy stock, $25.95, 112 pages, ASIN #1906509891. Footnotes, dozens of color images, some full-page.
"Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) was a semiliterate Cornish fisherman who was nearly deaf and in fragile mental health," writes author Edwin Mullins in his latest book on the field of art. "Yet when he took up painting at the age of 70, with no prior instruction, he quickly made a name for himself. He attracted a number of distinguished patrons and collectors, who grew to prize his paintings, even though he sold them for only a few pence to anyone who wanted them.
"Wallis mostly worked on oddly shaped scraps of cardboard, given to him by the local grocer, and he covered them in ship's paint, a medium he knew well from his fishing days. Using very few colors, he depicted the sea, boats, and other aspects of life as a fisherman, images that let him celebrate his memories.
"This book presents the story of Wallis's life and work alongside beautiful full-color reproductions of nearly 100 of his paintings. Rounding out the volume are transcripts of Wallis's own anecdotes, recorded by his doctor, which bring Wallis's artistic idiosyncrasies to life."
Author Edwin Mullins is an author and broadcaster who has served as the art critic for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.