By William S. McFeely (W.W. Norton & Co.; 206 pages; $23.95)

A professor emeritus at the University of Georgia and a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Ulysses S. Grant, William S. McFeely examines the realities of capital punishment by focusing on one of its most charismatic opponents, Stephen Bright, the head of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. “For a nation capable of better to allow its states to take one life as revenge for another life is to practice violence, not combat it,” writes McFeely. “The death penalty is the very antithesis of civility.”

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