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Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison
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In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Revision of Sorts...
    I'd spent years thinking that, of the two key French postmodernist thinkers, Derrida was the serious (if largely wrong) thinker and Foucault was the charlatan. That was based on my angry reaction to "Madness and Civilisation" and "Birth of the Clinic", both of which I found to be riddled with bad history. Looking at the works Derrida produced in the last years of his life-- and looking again at "Discipline and Punish" --I've revised that opinion. Derrida was-- or became --a charlatan. Foucault often needed better attention to historical accuracy-- he does periodize badly, and he's hopeless at anything outside France --but his study of the changes in the philosophy of punishment and social control here in "Discipline and Punish" is excellent. This is a key book for understanding modern theories of social control and examining modern responses to the ideas of "re-education" and surveillance. Foucault, for all his flaws, was a serious thinker, and this is a serious and valuable book. ...more info
  • Excellent
    For the people saying that this book is dense, impenetrable, hard to understand, etc., I would suggest simply going a little slower and, if possible, studying other works by Foucault in order to get used to his style. Among Foucault's books, I think this is probably the "easiest" to read in that the motives of its writing are clear, the themes are laid out for you in black and white, and the documented evidence/archival history that he returns to time and time again is at least documented and built on solidly. Foucault had a way with seeing history in new ways, this book is a beautiful demonstration of that, it uncovers and unveils currents at work within history other than the "accepted" or "offered" ones, one of his favorite projects, and as such...I think it's essential. As with his other books, though, be prepared for bold, grand statements and stylistic flourishes that are not always backed up with demonstrated evidence, but...he knew that part of writing was rhetoric. He states his case, and does so with amazing eloquence...this is a very powerful book. ...more info
  • Michel Foucault is Unbelievable. Talk about Mind-Expansion.
    A short review:
    This is an exceptional book by a man who is loved in the academic world. Foucault has changed the way I see everything. This book is definitely one of my top ten reads.

    Additional Thoughts:
    This book was my introduction to Foucault and, within the awesomeness of the torture scene described in the beginning of the book, I was and remain hooked. You will be blown away by this man's capacity to understand the minutest details of life and apply them to the "larger picture"--which in this case is our current prison system. In other words, I remain confident, that Foucault could connect a little boy bouncing a ball in the middle of a shopping mall, to the gaze of a guard peering at the inmates, aware of their every move, their every word, and seemingly, their every thought.

    In this book, Foucault uses Nietzsche's genealogical method to understand the "birth" of the prison, not the "origin". He tries to identify the historical and sociological forces that went into the birthing of the prison system, which (you soon learn) went hand-in-hand with the developing systems of education, hospitals, and factories. Foucault is not a localist, he is a totalist. He does not believe the current prison system stemmed from previous systems, but that the current system is intimately involved in the changes in every other aspect of human life.

    What this all adds up to is a terrific read for anyone interested in understanding much of today's contemporary life: our obsession with time and orderliness (How our increments of time continually get smaller and smaller, Why our (talking to Americans here mostly) big named stores all look alike) and our deeply held obsession for violence; among many other things.

    Suggestions for reading:
    Foucault's ideas, as a philosopher, are known to be complex and provocative. Don't worry. This book is meant for the casual reader. Of his ideas in this book, you are introduced to his idea of power, which he more explicitly writes about in his more academic essays. For the casual reader (which sadly I am sure there will not be too many of you), I suggest to read this book keeping this "power" in mind. If you do this, you are on your way to a mind-bending experience, for you will begin to see power, domination and subjugation in a completely different light. For these all become relative concepts in the totalizing unit Foucault calls "power". Read to understand....more info
  • Ready for a prison escape?
    Get ready for a new way of looking at the prison system and the history background that precedes it. This is a critical study of the origins of the prison system and the penalization of criminals. Not an easy read by no means, but a truely provacative thought generating means of looking at the discipline and the prison system of Britian....more info
  • A Must Read To Anyone Intrested in the Human Condition
    This is by far one of the best books I have read on the criminal system and how it dehumanizes and objectifies man so that we are able to do what we do in prisons....more info
  • Foucault's Disicpline
    Foucault's "Discipline and Punish," is an excellent read. On point in his breakdown and analysis of where our modern day system of prison come from; readers will find this book well written easily understanble in its translation of the history of the prison system....more info
  • A Fascinating - and vivid - Account of Crime and Punishment
    I am not a big fan of Foucault; however, I was fascinated by Crime and Punishment. One of the principal ideas which Foucault discusses in Discipline & Punish is that public executions have constituted as much a method of crime prevention as a public spectacle. I find that his ideas can be easily transposed to explain the public's fascination with media violence, wrestling, boxing and so on.
    As the ideas of the enlightenment spread throughout the 19th century executions and torture became less frequent and conducted ever further from the public spotlight while more `humane' methods of killing were also adopted. No longer were prisoners dragged behind horses, crushed on cart wheels or had their limbs severed one by one. The Guillotine, firing squads and poisonous concoctions vastly accelerated the dying process and reduced physical pain. Foucault does not in any way suggest that man is any more or less violent today than he was two centuries ago or 2000 years ago. Nonetheless, he shows that the violence of justice has changed its modus operandi.

    The West has seen the longest period of peace in history, economic conditions have improved for the majority and violence (physical and psychological) is not tolerated. At the same time, criminals enjoy more rights privileges and there have been efforts to ensure humane treatment of prisoners. Therefore, taking Foucault into consideration, violence in film is none other than the public's basic, and instinctively human, appetite for violence that always looks for ways of manifesting itself in accordance to society's norms. If the public torture of a man whose bones were crushed or limbs cut off (in such a way that the victim could clearly see what was being done) or a public hanging constituted an popular occasion for spectacle in the 18th century, so then do graphic violent films appeal to people in the same way in the 21st century.
    Therefore, in many ways, Foucault's ideas as expressed in Discipline and Punish support the notion that violence in contemporary cinema has a cathartic function....more info

  • A Struggle. Youll Swear Youve Been Setenced to Hard Labor.
    Yes, its a masterpiece. Wonderful material. Thought-provoking.

    It's also a monumental struggle to read. How's that? The translator uses every multi-syllabel word there is, and seasons it liberally with nominalizations. The words arent BIG, obscure words, theyre just large words that absorb a lot of space in a sentence. This makes the reading hard work because you have to fill your braincells with all the large words, process them, then try and assemble it all into a simple, cogent thought. The translator or author crams too much stuff into each sentence. Youll swear youve been sentenced to hard labor. But you wont need a dictionary to understand any of it.

    I'm always tempted to translate the French-Latin derived English into simple Anglo-Saxon English.

    The bottom-line is: Is the book useful? Yes, very. It bundles a lot of history into discreet packages and reveals the method in the madness of criminal justice. But the writing sux.

    I plan to buy another copy....more info
  • Becomes riveting around page 220
    Foucault traces the history of the prison system and the fundamental change in punishment that took place in the seventeenth century from retributive punishment of criminals, 'supplice,' to the rehabilitation of delinquents. Foucault is concerned with this change as it demonstrates something pervasive and not just exclusive to the prison system--normalization, or socialization. All the silly little things done in schools, for instance, you will see in quite a different light after reading this book. It's one of those books that--well, at the risk of sounding supremely cornball, will open your mind. All mind-opening books are painful, though, and this is definitely a painful read, mainly thanks to Foucault's _terrible_ writing style. Apparently he wrote it in two days straight with the aid of way too much coffee. (This is partly the translator's fault--other translator's version are a [slight] improvement, and when Foucault wrote in English he did a better job than any of his translators. Slightly better, that is.) Be prepared for sentences within sentences within sentences within sentences within sentences, none of which are marked off by parentheses or dashes. Foucault uses commas very, very lavishly, as some sort of all-purpose punctuation mark, and shies away from periods as if they were the Plague. Eventually, you get used to it, though, and the content is actually worth it....more info
  • It Isn't Just Big Brother Watching You
    Once again, Foucault is showing us that everything we know is wrong by tracing the history and evolution of discipline and punishment from the stocks and public executions of the 18th Century to the modern penitentiary system. He argues that despite the good intentions of the modern penal system, it has failed in its noble aims. What's more, on some level, society knows it has failed, but keeps it around anyway because it serves as a method of control which we cannot give up. Overall, this is a fascinating and persuasive book that will change the way anyone thinks about not only prisons, but discipline in society in general. I only give it four stars because I felt the last chapter was not argued on very firm or convincing grounds, nor that the conclusions necessarily derived from the premises he defines. However, you can decide that for yourself. I would most strongly recommend this to those who are interested in cultural studies and literary theory. The idea of the Panopticon in society has become an essential concept for both fields of study. Those interested in revisionist history or just an entertaining, if slightly dense, read should also pick this one up; compared to most philosophers, Foucault writes with a clarity and grace few can match....more info
  • Life changing
    This book is life changing if you can get past the first 40 pages. Its a bit different and if you can handle the reading even though you may not agree you'll find it amazing. I am so glad I had to use this book for a course or I don't think I would of been able to get past it. However with enough coffee the concepts are profound. I would like to read other works by the same author.

    p.s. if you talk about the concepts with others not reading the book with you or who have never read the book. They might find these topics way far out from the norm. They are neither left/right nor radical. Its comes together. The book is also a great history book. ...more info
  • Society is a Prison-and Vice Versa
    By the time that Michel Foucault published DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH in 1975, he had already made a reputation as the champion of the downtrodden. In his earlier pseudo-historian-fictional texts MADNESS AND CIVILIZATION (1961), THE BIRTH OF THE CLINIC (1963), THE ORDER OF THINGS (1966), and THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE (1969), he had attracted a great deal of attention in France as one who offered a politically correct alternative to mainstream society's insistance that the locus of interest in any culture must lie in the center. Those who did not fit in this center--the outcasts, the insane, the incarcerated--must be relegated to the marginalized periphery of that culture where they would simply languish in a morass that the center insisted was eminently justified. Along came Foucault to state that the truest way to judge the ethics of any society was to examine how those in the center treated those on the periphery. In a not unsurprising conclusion, he asserted that the further one was from the center, the more likely it was that one would be first stigmatized as aberrant, then isolated, and ultimately reduced to a miserable self who existed only as the object of a dehumanizing exercise of power by those who symbolized this system. In fact, if you examine the entire corpus of Foucault, you will learn that he sees society locked in a bear hug of power exercises, with those in the center who have it and exercise it over those on the marginalized periphery who lack it.

    Before 1975, Foucault was known mostly only in France where his earlier texts had not yet reached beyond the borders. When DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH was translated into English, Foucault became an instant celebrity. It seemed that every subgroup that saw itself as marginalized--gays, the insane, radical feminists, and the incarcerated--could directly and immediately relate to his premise that the exercise of power by the powerful over the powerless was not unlike Orwell's O'Brien from 1984 telling a tormented Winston Smith that power exists for its own sake.

    Foucault saw a link between power and knowledge. Power could not be exercised without the knowledge needed to control inmates in a manner that had to wait until technology had advanced sufficiently by the Industrial Revolution to order the lives of inmates every minute of the day. It was no coincidence, he claimed that the predecessors of the prison--the monastic orders, hospitals, and schools--all were built around the same basic mold: identify each candidate by rank, isolate him, and reduce his capacity to operate as a free-thinking individual. The more advanced that a society became, the more likely that it would punish an inmate who persisted in his original world view--hence the "punish" of the title. When Foucault begins his text with the graphic dismemberment of the inmate Damiens in Paris in 1757, he makes it clear that penology was still heavily invested in torture for the sake of torture. It was not until a century later that wardens would use physical coercion for what was to them a higher purpose--to create a new and presumably higher order of human, one who was more moral for his incarceration. Foucault agrees that such an overly optimistic view of the efficacy of prison reform was nonsense. Released inmates were very likely to commit further crimes and hence return to prison.

    What then do we today make of Foucault? Unfortunately, an objective view of Foucault shows numerous and grievous flaws in both his basic assumptions and methologies. He makes constant errors of fact, date, time, and place. Events that he assigns to one century happen in another. His bibliography is rife with sources that are so obscure and out of date that it is impossible to verify Foucault's veracity. Further, his personal habits of indulging in sado-masochism all too often crop up in his works to suggest that his true agenda is to bare his tormented soul rather than to explicate how the modern prison system came to be. Ultimately, his many readers are left with taking his word that it was only the interlocking relation between power and the marginalized that can explain the source of the marginalization. I do not take his word for it so I do not recommend Michel Foucault as a true and unbiased critic of anything let alone so complicated a system as the modern prison. ...more info
  • Great read!
    Great book ever. Period. I love this book, it puts life into perspective and allows to understand society. Read this book, and the rest of his books. Foucault is a genius....more info
  • OK, but pretentious like his other work
    A few chapters are interesting because they bring back the gruesome spectacle of publc torture. So, if you're a sadist, and to some extent we all are (by watching horror flicks like Saw, etc.), you will dig how he introduces his power-knowledge theme and applies it to punishment today and yesterday.

    His writing itself is filled with run-on sentences, albeit with the overused semicolons and colons. And his paragraphs are too long. Did he skip language/writing classes? Foucault's terms are seldom defined adequately, if at all, and he is hard to follow. It's hard to see how this gives any value to his books. It takes a lot away in my opinion, perhaps masking the bleakness of some of his work. ...more info
  • Virtual hot pincers speak volumes
    It seems only to have occurred to a few of these reviewers that whatever Foucault intended as the poltical upshot of Discipline and Punish (and are we even 'allowed' to ask such a question?) its practical political effect has been to allow senior academics a face-saving way to warn graduate students not to rock the boat while denying any authoritarian tendencies. Perhpas Foucault's work has somehow had more positive political effects in gay rights work, and I would be interested in hearing that argument, but I doubt it. I think his celebrity has done that....more info
  • A Guide To Complex Power Relations.
    As a benchmark in the fields of sociology, psychology and ostensibly criminal justice Michel Foucault's "Discipline and Punish, The Birth of The Prison" is not merely a historical treatise on the genesis of the corrections system in the West as much as it is an illumination into the human psyche as to why the need for "discipline" and "punishment" as applied to corrections exists.

    Although Foucault provides a "provocative account of how penal institutions and the power to punish has become part of our lives," he also covers with some depth into the perceived failures of the modern prison by showing how the very concern with rehabilitation, for example, encourages and refines criminal behavior.

    By way of illustration then, in Part Three "Discipline" under Chapter "Panopticism" Foucault states (p.218): "Generally speaking, it might be said that the disciplines are techniques for assuring the ordering of human multiplicities. It is true that there is nothing exceptional or even characteristic in this: every system of power is presented with the same problem. But the peculiarity of the disciplines is that they try to define in relation to the multiplicities a tactics of power that fulfills three criteria: firstly, to obtain the exercise of power at the lowest possible cost (economically, by the low expenditure it involves, politically, by its discretion, its low exteriorization, its relative invisibility, the little resistance it arouses); secondly, to bring the effects of this social power to their maximum intensity and to extend them as far as possible, without either failure or interval; thirdly, to link this 'economic' growth of power with the output of the apparatuses (educational, military, industrial or medical) within which it is exercised; in short, to increase both the docility and the utility of all the elements of the system."

    In the final analysis then, Foucault links the "carceral" mechanisms of society such as commerce, industry, and of course prison which are intended to produce and maintain "normalization" to the element of strategy and necessity of combat.

    Foucault's prescience in understanding human nature and the psychology of human relations and interactions surmises that the effect and instrument of complex power relations, bodies and forces subjected by multiple mechanisms of 'incarceration', and objects for discourses in strategy creates the power of normalization in society and continues to formulate our knowledge of how it should be construed and controlled with particular regard to our penal institutions.

    An insightful and pioneering work rated at five stars.

    JP ...more info
  • A great philosophical work!
    Foucault's work is more philosophical than historical, and, as such, he is not bound by historical rules of evidence. Thus, the criticisms of the previous reviewer do not apply. This is a thoroughly enjoyable work for anyone interested in a serious look at power relations....more info
  • BUYER BEWARE
    I bought the book on a recommendation a year back and tried to read it but failed to concentrate enough as it was a pretty dense book. Recently I picked it up again, this time determined to finish it as it is considered an important work.

    I have forced myself and it takes forever to get through a single page. Either the author or the translator did a lousy job. I wonder if the original is easier to decipher. I ended up putting the book down on page 111 (a third into the book). Do not waste your time with this book. Foucault may have been a great philosopher who had an impact on many other scholars but I wouldn't know because i cant understand what he wrote.

    HAHAHAHAH LET ME DEMONSTRATE WHAT I MEAN AS I QUOTE FROM THE BOOK (p.23), SEE IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT HE IS SAYING ON YOUR FIRST TRY:

    "Instead of treating the history of penal law and the history of the human sciences as two separate series whose overlapping appears to have had on one or the other, or perhaps on both, a disturbing or useful effect, according to one's point of view, see whether there is not some common matrix or whether they do not both derive from a single process of 'epistemologico-juridical' formation; in short, make the technology of power the very principle both of the humanization of the penal system and the knowledge of man."

    NOT AS BAD AS FINNEGAN's WAKE, but it sure comes close....more info
  • In itself, a punishment of sorts
    Contemporary, left of center writing begins every social criticism (for the purposes of the left, the individual is immaterial, if not downright anathema) with a premise strikingly biblical: before the serpent, always bourgeois and rational, there was eden. Foucault refers to the world before reason came slithering in as a place without madness (cf. History of Madness) and a place without crime (this work). After seducing the good to think their innocent acts a sin, and those who perpetrate them naked and wicked, yea, then did the commercial devils Work and Industry clothe our bodies in cover-alls and deliver us over into a toiling hell, where there are toilets, moon rockets, and day schools. for foucault, madness is an identity assigned to those who will not reason as the devils say one should; and crime is a mere name intended to demean an act of rebellion against the authority of these same devils.

    gimme a break! the entire hypothesis is outlandish in the extreme. true, there are brilliancies in Foucault's work, but they more often than not illuminate how banal the method behind it, and therefore resemble the critical equivalent of a slight of hand, put there to conceal the purpose. I would broadly categorize corruption as the maintenance of an untruth for private purposes. Foucault is profoundly guilty of this kind of dishonesty, and it corrupts what value his observation might intrinsically possess.

    brains, please, people.

    what might cato say today? "methinks, the left (latin for left is sinister: remarkably apropo) ought utterly be destroyed." a good enough beginning for this perdition would be its authors and all their works, mostly for being stupid, and telling such catchable lies.

    tlt-...more info
  • Revealing
    Discipline & Punish is an investigation of modern techniques in discipline which reveals the hypocrisy of today's principal method of "reform."...more info
  • About power and agency, not prisons
    This book is no more about the history of prisons than the fable of the rabbit and hare is about animal competition. Foucault is writing about the power of normalization in western society.

    Within five minutes of my residence there are two large Texas state prisons. The offenders incarcerated in these facilities exist in a network of interlocking disciplinary mechanisms, mechanisms that Foucault unveils in this book. The criminal justice system, the prison environment, the educational/training opportunities available during incarceration, parolee supervision, and the limited employment options on release all coordinate to encapsulate the offender's life. The offender's agency is significantly impaired for the balance of his life regardless of his domiciliary.

    I live in a master planned, suburban community subject to a detailed and lengthy list of deed restrictions. These deed restrictions dictate the colors that I can paint my house, the height to which my grass can grow, the type of trees that I can plant in the front yard as well as the insistence that I plant three trees in my front yard. My wife and I have had to paint the front door twice in the last four years to comply with homeowner association threats, and we have been chastised for offenses as "severe" as leaving a hose uncoiled for too long in the front yard.

    Now I admit that there is a modicum of agency in my decision to live in this specific community; however, just like the offenders incarcerated nearby, I live in a network of interlocking disciplinary mechanisms. I contend that my agency is also significantly impaired. The difference between my life and the offender's life is one of degree, not kind.

    This is the message Foucault communicates with both style and substance in this book. He identifies three means by which power works on each of us to coerce compliance with the standards of normality: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination.

    The sad and simple fact is that surveillance is coercive. We might all see the public good in maintaining records of the offenses of the violent, but think for a moment about all of the records kept on you - telephone calls, financial transactions, medical tests and treatment, insurance claims, library check outs, video rentals, credit reports, credit card transactions, property ownership, internet sites, and tax filings. Hierarchical observation is a fact of modern life, and it seems to be steadily increasing.

    By normalizing judgment, Foucault is referring to the power inherent in all social expectations. Try applying for a job, a business loan, a home mortgage, or a graduate program, and you will quickly feel the power of normalizing judgments. Woe to the applicant who stands out as different! Rarely do those exercising judgment question their standards, and even more rarely do they make exceptions on an individual basis. The message is loud - conform or else.

    The last and perhaps most subtle power of normalization lies in the use of examinations. Even low paying professions (public school teachers, social workers, home day care operators) must attain licensure through examination. In Texas, third graders cannot be promoted to the fourth grade without passing a statewide exam. We endure the dominance of testing because of its presumed objectivity, but we all know that testing is not objective. Bias in design and in test conditions influence outcomes, and the testing continues despite an absence of evidence that it reliably predicts future performance.

    I think this book is brilliant and disturbing. It is not always easy to read, but then, what book worth reading is? Foucault is given to dramatic images, and he does little to mitigate the impact of these images on the reader. Perhaps he is really trying to increase this impact. Since he is attempting to counter the powers of normalization, he may need all of the momentum he can get....more info

  • We Are All Inside the Panopticon Now
    This book has been described as Foucault's masterpiece, and for good reason. Through this "genealogy" of history, Foucault shows us how modern society has become penal and coercive in nature; and perhaps more importantly, that all us now live in the midst of an abstract, authoritative public "gaze."

    Although the book traverses a lot of historical ground, Foucault's discussion culminates in an analysis of Jeremy Bentham's prison concept. Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism philosophy, believed that individual rights are subordinate to the state. In fact, he went so far as to call them "nonsense on stilts." As long as the government protected its people and treated them decently, he did not believe that the polity could be accused of oppressing its citizen - be they convicts or otherwise. Thus, Bentham was the first philosopher to give the modern penal system its rational underpinnings. Today, we take it as a matter of course that those who do not conform to laws are trucked off to prison. But with this book, Foucault attempts to completely undermine our intuitive sense of what is right, what is coercive, what is rational, and ultimately what is true. Perhaps better than any other author out there, Foucault shows us the subtle madness of Western institutional logic.

    Foucault focused on Bentham's prison model, or the Penopticon as Bentham called it - which literally means, that which sees all. The Penopticon prison, which was popular in the early nineteenth century, was designed to allow guards to see their prisons, but not allow prisoners to see guards. The building was circular, with prisoner's cells lining the outer diameter, and in the center of the circle was a large, central observational tower. At any given time, guards could be looking down into each prisoner's cells - and thereby monitor potentially unmoral behavior - but carefully-placed blinds prevented prisoners from seeing the guards, thereby leaving them to wonder if they were being monitored at any given moment. It was Bentham's belief that the "gaze" of the Panopticon would force prisoners to behave morally. Like the all-seeing eye of God, they would feel shame at their wicked ways. In effect, the coercive nature of the Panopticon was built into its very structure.

    Discipline and Punish is still relevant for today, even though the Panopticon has vanished. For starters, the United States government now possesses the technology to view see and hear anybody on the face of the planet. In fact, just recently the FBI announced that they have the right (invested in them by the state) to monitor any phone conversations they deem a threat to national security. Furthermore, for the same reason, the CIA or the DIA may use high-tech satellite technology to monitor actions anywhere on the face of the planet. Currently, these satellites have the ability to spot and read the date off a dime in the street. These new technological developments have completely altered the meaning "gaze" in the modern context. In a very real way, we are all living in the Panopticon now.

    Moreover, Foucault would have never guessed the future of American prison systems. Today, Americans put more people behind bars than in any other country in the world, while public education, job training, and other resources that might potentially help people stay off drugs or out of crime in the first place are under funded. Furthermore, the vast majority of convicts who are released - many having been brutalized in prison - often end up behind bars again in no time, usually for small offenses involving drugs or petty larceny (that is, non-violent crimes involving property). Thirty years ago, when Foucault died, prisons were still run by the state. However, today prisons are increasingly being privatized and run as businesses, with the further benefit of huge government subsidies. The United States now prioritizes prison funding over education and rehabilitation - spending roughly 40 billion a year on operation and construction of new prisons. The prison industry is booming.

    Anyway, this book is a must-read classic. It will abhor you, enthrall you, and provide immeasurable food for thought. It drove me to ask questions about the nature of knowledge, history, and the evolution of a persecuting society. Controversial to the teeth, this work will definately activate all your higher faculties and blast you off on all sort of theoretical tangents. Once I started I couldn't put it down. As Foucault said himself, he writes "experience book," and I couldn't agree more. I highly recommend having this experience, if only for the sake of where it will land you.

    A final note for those who are interested... Oddly enough, Jeremy Bentham was not buried or incinerated like most people after he died. He willed his body to be preserved and displayed. It was dissected in a medical amphitheater at the Web Street School of anatomy in London, three days after his death. (By the way, this was illegal at the time. Only executed murderers could be dissected according to the law). His organs were then removed, and the original head replaced with a wax one. After being stolen by students as a joke, the real head is now kept in a safe in the College. The body, dressed in Bentham's own clothes, remains stuffed with hay, straw, wool, cotton and lavender to keep moths away. Since he was a founder of University College, Bentham is ensconced inside a glass fronted mahogany case (on casters), set unceremoniously in a busy hallway. He is regularly visited by scholars from all over the world, once went to a beer festival in Germany, and is brought to the table once a year for the annual Bentham Dinner. Amazingly, he was also trundled to the annual Board of Directors meeting for years, who still leave his old chair empty out of respect....more info