Books for changing the world
The Torture Machine
Racism and Police Violence in Chicago

A lawyer for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the US Supreme Court.

With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt political machine.

The Torture Machine takes the reader from the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-years of litigation that followed—through the dogged pursuit of commander Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects.

Joining forces with community activists, torture survivors and their families, other lawyers, and local reporters, Taylor and the PLO gathered evidence from multiple cases to bring suit against the CPD officers and the City of Chicago.  As the struggle expanded beyond the torture scandal to the ultimately successful campaign to end the death penalty in Illinois, and obtained reparations for many of the torture survivors, it set human rights precedents that have since been adopted across the United States.

  • "If it was not for Flint Taylor I would still be languishing in prison. He brought hope to a hopeless place.... All the struggles that we lived through are captured in perfect detail here. Thank you, Flint for writing this book." —Darrell Cannon, Torture survivor


    "If you want to understand what actually happened to the those Jon Burge tortured read this book.Torture Machine is the truth for all to read. Flint Taylor and this book are a godsend." —Anthony Holmes, Torture survivor


    "It is impossible to fully understand the continuing challenges created by unjustifiable police violence against black and brown people without appreciating the historical backdrop that sustains this national crisis. Flint Taylor's powerful new book, informed by his decades as one of the most effective advocates addressing these issues, is a must read." —Bryan Stevenson, best-selling author of Just Mercy


    "[A] compelling book...."  Booklist, Starred Review


    "This book is a powerful testament to their courage and determination and is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand what can happen when those in power condone violations of civil and constitutional rights for political expediency." —Mary E. Howell, Civil Rights Attorney


    "A stunning, sweeping history of police violence in Chicago, and Flint Taylor's lifelong pursuit of racial justice. Quite literally the work of a lifetime." —Alison Flowers, Author of Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity


    "[A]n indispensable and searing account of the barbarous regime of policing under Jon Burge, and the ongoing fight for justice." —Martha Biondi, author of To Stand and Fight. James Thindwa, Labor Activist and Board Member, In These Times.


     “[A]n unsparing dissection of foundational racism in the criminal justice system … It could not be more timely." —Jaime Kalven, Investigative Reporter, Executive Director, Invisible Institute