Born OTD in 1828, Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time, Leo Tolstoy. This powerful novel, begins with a courtroom drama (the finest in Russian literature) all the more stunning for being based on a real-life event. Dmitri Nekhlyudov, called to jury service, is astonished to see in the dock, charged with murder, a young woman whom he once seduced, propelling her into prostitution. She is found guilty on a technicality, and he determines to overturn the verdict. This pitches him into a hellish labyrinth of Russian courts, prisons and bureaucracy, in which the author loses no opportunity for satire and bitter criticism of a state system (not confined to that country) of cruelty and injustice.

This is Dickens for grown-ups, involving a hundred characters, Crime and Punishment brought forward half a century. With unforgettable set-pieces … More

Resurrection (1899) is the last of Tolstoy’s major novels. It tells the story of a nobleman’s attempt to redeem the suffering his youthful philandering inflicted on a peasant girl who ends up a prisoner in Siberia. Tolstoy’s vision of redemption, achieved through loving forgiveness and his condemnation of violence, dominate the novel. An intimate, psychological tale of guilt, anger, and forgiveness…

Resurrection is at the same time a panoramic description of social life in Russia at the end of the nineteenth … More

With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life; the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable.

For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly, the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to … More

The three lives in this creative nonfiction account are united by the presence of actual harm—sometimes horrific violence….Together they explore the questions: People can do unimaginable things to one another—and then what? What do we as a society do? What might redemption look like?

Imarisha doesn’t flinch as she guides us through the difficulties and contradictions, eschewing theory for a much messier reality. The … More

What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to light. The prospect of the gallows, too, makes them hardy & bold. Ah, it’s a fine thing for the trade! Five of them strung up in a row, & none left to play booty or turn white-livered!

Died #OTD 1870, Charles Dickens. Starved and mistreated, empty bowl in hand, the young hero musters the courage to approach … More