Just when everyone (or at least everyone who lives in a city) is up in arms about spiraling crime rates and an apparently hamstrung punitive system, Hyman Gross, professor of law at New York University, rises above the occasion with a thorough, systematic, and highly theoretical discussion of criminal justice. His aim is not to ""invent a conception of criminal justice"" but to ""discover it in the principles that are generally aimed at by the criminal law in every civilized society of a more or less liberal democratic complexion."" Accordingly, he explores questions of the relation of criminal justice to social criticism and moralism. He probes definitions of culpability, intention, and motive, and of the various permutations of ""harm."" Methodically, he examines each possible exculpatory claim, analyzing its philosophical and legal basis; and he discusses the various justifications for criminal punishment from removal of those persons ""dangerous"" to society to rehabilitation and deterrence. Gross sets himself a large and complex task, but his concrete ""ordinary"" prose makes this discussion accessible to the thoughtful citizen as well as to the specialist in legal theory. Those who seek ready answers to practical problems of street violence must look elsewhere, but--as Gross' book ably demonstrates--when such problems become too complicated it sometimes pays to start over from the beginning.