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John Barton provides a masterful account of the literary contributions to debates over the second abolition movement in nineteenth-century America: the campaign against capital punishment. This campaign united pro-slavery writer William Gilmore Simms and anti-slavery writer Lydia Maria Child. It engaged lesser known writers such as John Neal, George Lippard, and Sylvester Judd as well as Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dreiser. Shrewdly analyzing the formal qualities by which different authors execute competing representations of capital crimes in literature, Barton helps explain why a country once at the forefront of this abolition campaign continues to evoke the death sentence.