Book Talk: “The Baron and the Marquis: Liberty, Tyranny, and the Enlightenment Maxim That Can Remake American Criminal Justice,” by John D. Bessler, University of Baltimore School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center.
Introduction by Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law
John Bessler teaches law at the University of Baltimore School of Law and at the Georgetown University Law Center. He has previously taught at the University of Minnesota Law School, The George Washington University Law School, Rutgers School of Law, and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He has written several books on capital punishment and the origins of American law. His 2014 book, The Birth of American Law: An Italian Philosopher and the American Revolution, was the recipient of the Scribes Book Award, a national award given out since 1961 for “the best work of legal scholarship published during the previous year.” That book, about the influence of the Italian Enlightenment on the American Revolution, also won the American Association for Italian Studies Book Award. He is also the author of The Death Penalty as Torture: From the Dark Ages to Abolition (2017); The Celebrated Marquis: An Italian Noble and the Making of the Modern World (2018), a biography of the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria; and The Baron and the Marquis: Liberty, Tyranny, and the Enlightenment Maxim that Can Remake American Criminal Justice (2019), which traces the history and modern-day implications of a criminal justice maxim articulated by Montesquieu and later publicized by Beccaria. He has a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota, a law degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, an M.F.A. degree from Hamline University in St. Paul, and a master’s degree in international human rights law from Oxford University.