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April 2012 , Page 50 

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Book Review: Capital Punishment on Trial: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America

By David M. Oshinsky

By David M. OshinskyUniversity Press of Kansas (2010)Reviewed by Jayson D. Bozek 

In Capital Punishment on Trial: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Oshinsky provides a clear and concise treatment of a complex subject: the legal and socio-economic underpinnings of the death penalty in America and the Supreme Court’s ongoing struggle to fashion a just legal standard.

The book’s title is somewhat misleading inasmuch as it does not attempt to provide a blow-by-blow account of the case or life of William Furman. Nor does the book undertake an in-depth analysis of the legal issues involved in the case. Rather, Oshinsky uses the case as a lens through which to view the development of the Supreme Court’s capital punishment jurisprudence and the systemic weaknesses in applying the death penalty.

In 1967, career criminal William Furman, an African American, shot and killed a white homeowner in Savannah, Ga. Th

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