The Hot Topics series from Lucent, aimed at middle school students and above, provides introductions to controversial issues in a balanced and accessible approach. This volume offers an historical overview of the topic beginning with references to the Old Testament, ancient China and Hammurabi’s code. Next is a chapter laying out the principle arguments in favor of capital punishment, followed by a similar chapter explaining the main reasons for opposition. These chapters offer concise summaries for use by teachers and students doing independent research. The fourth chapter traces the development of current law through relevant U.S. court cases; the final chapter reviews the previous year’s executions among the top six countries who uphold this practice—China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and the United States—and reviews efforts by blocks of countries to abolish the death penalty. Also included are discussion questions for each chapter, a list of organizations to contact, a print and Web bibliography and a general index. Color photos, bold graphics and frequent sidebars create visual appeal to a volume that will see frequent use in secondary schools. Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries.