A departure from what one expects as Koestler with his usual clarity presents the arguments for capital punishment and then destroys them. Aside from questions of logic, his thesis is well documented and organized. He begins with medieval case histories and their justifications and concludes with present day practices in England, comparing them to other countries. He examines the institutions and conditions operative in legal judgments and exposes their inherent shortcomings. The sanguinary just of the crowd, the inhumane sadism of the tribunals -- these vindictive, retributive elements of punishment demonstrate how often emotions, irrational and unwieldy, insinuate themselves into an area which should be controlled by reason. The introduction by Edmond Cahn, Professor of Law at New York University, shows how Koestler's thesis may be applied universally, especially in the United States. A Koestler market, limited by the technical approach.