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Reviews

"Riveting... A fascinating, if grim, analysis of an overlooked aspect of Victorian medico-legal history."

"Eigen has interwoven... complex psychological, legal, and social issues in a fabric of compelling historical events, addressing timeless questions of the self, mind, memory, and what it means to be conscious or, simply, to be."

"This book shows how underneath the supposed hegemony of the restrictive M'Naghten Rules a long-term expansion of the universe of mental derangement was slowly taking place in the courts of Victorian England. It also carries forward the work Eigen did in his previous book, Witnessing Insanity: Madness and Mad Doctors in the English Court (1995), to debunk the fashionable notion of 'medical imperialism' and to show how the increasing use of medicine and psychiatry in criminal justice was being produced less by the ambitions of doctors and more by the actions of other 'players' in the legal process... It also reminds us of the relevance of criminal trials for understanding nineteenth century mentalities. "

"The stand alone chapters make it ideal for course reading. Eigen has accomplished the rare mix of combining academic rigour with a colourfully written, thumping good read."

"Eigen should definitely be praised for offering an overly ambitious but abridged medico-legal history that is both narratively engaging for a general readership and adhering rigidly to scholarly methods or academic canons of intellectual history."

"A beautifully crafted and tightly reasoned intellectual history. Joel Peter Eigen introduces readers to the concept of 'double consciousness' as it arose in the nineteenth century through several trials that serve as detailed examples of this phenomenon. The trials themselves are fascinating, and Eigen's approach ensures that his study is sophisticated, precise, and engaging. Eigen is an excellent storyteller who has the ability to move back and forth between the concrete and the abstract. This book is exquisitely done."