• The Politics of Punishment by John Hostettler - book cover

The Politics of Punishment

by John Hostettler


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This re-issue with a new Preface of a classic work by John Hostettler looks at the political and other social dynamics behind law, order and punishment. A timeless work by one of the UK’s leading commentators and now with pointers to key developments in penal politics of the last 20 years. This first paperback version contains a wide-ranging analysis of the topic from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, including: the impact on punishments of power struggles, wealth, superstition, class distinctions, populist ideas, the centrality for many years of the death penalty, modern-day ideas of rehabilitation but above all the underlying threads of social control, law and order and political signals about crime.

A classic work and a collector’s item which looks at the genesis and purposes of punishment. Shows how punishment, power differences, social control and (sometimes suspect) economics and politics have always been intertwined. A must for practitioners and students in this field.

Reviews of the first edition

‘This splendid book…reveals in all its starkness the close connexion between the inhumanities of punishment and the political interests of the State’—Justice of the Peace.

‘Starts with a delightful description of Anglo-Saxon criminal law and punishment, and travels fast forwards…A colourful entertainment’—Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health.

‘Well researched, knowledgeable…a good read’—Litigation.

‘First class reading’—Police Journal.

‘Takes us on a breathless tour d’horizon of the history of judicial punishment, a thousand years in a hundred pages, before slowing down to examine more closely the reforms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’—The Magistrate.


John Hostettler has written various legal and historical works. He was a solicitor for 35 years including re political and civil liberties cases. His other books include: Dissenters, Radicals and Blasphemers: The Flame of Revolt that Shines Through English History (2012); Champions of the Rule of Law (2011); Sir William Garrow: His Life Times and Fight for Justice (2010) (with Richard Braby) and Twenty Famous Lawyers (2013).

First published by Barry Rose in 1994.

Additional information

Weight322 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 13 mm


Waterside Press





Revised/new Preface

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Place of origin

United Kingdom

Ebook (EPUB)


Ebook (PDF)


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