The Dawn of Neuroscience
in America's Courtrooms
The acclaimed new nonfiction story combines true crime, brain science and courtroom drama.
already one of the most acclaimed books of 2017
“Fascinating. . . . Perfect for fans of Antonio Damasio’s Descartes’ Error.”
— Library Journal
“Davis engagingly explores how sophisticated brain studies might help explain the causes of violent crimes. . . . A thoroughly researched, clearly presented book.”
— Kirkus (starred review)
“The Brain Defense is the best kind of nonfiction: It tells you what you need to know, not merely what you want to know. Kevin Davis delivers a riveting journey down an important new corridor in the American courthouse. An important book.”
— Michael Connelly
“A brave and thoughtful exploration of an intractable problem: What role, if any, should neuroscience play in the courtroom? Kevin Davis’s informative book will contribute significantly to the national dialogue on this controversial issue.”
— Antonio Damasio
“The Brain Defense is a stirring ride into a fascinating new field. Can a tumor or traumatic brain injury explain rape or murder? Can they diminish culpability? If your instinct screams no, read page one. The first staggering case will challenge your assumptions; the book that follows may alter them permanently. The vividness and urgency of Kevin Davis’s storytelling, along with his artful touch, draw you in from the first line and never let you go.”
— Dave Cullen
A riveting journey down a new corridor in the American courthouse. An important book.
— Michael Connelly
Murder in Manhattan
Curious Brain Abnormalities
From The Brain Defense
Charles Whitman, the sniper in the infamous 1966 Texas Tower Massacre at the University of Texas in Austin. Following his death, an autopsy revealed a small tumor deep inside his brain.
Railroad worker Phineas Gage, posing with the iron spike driven through his head. He called "my constant companion."
Diagram of Phineas Gage's skull, indicating the path of the iron railroad spike driven through his head.
Barbara and Herbert Weinstein circa 1988. Weinstein had no idea there was an orange size cyst growing in the left frontal lobe of his brain - a medical condition he later claimed caused him to kill Barbara.
An MRI and a PET scan image of Weinstein's brain show the dark area where the orange sized sub-arachnoid cyst had grown.
In chapter two of the Brain Defense, I misidentified Antoinette R. McGarrahan’s job title. McGarrahan is a psychologist who specializes in forensic psychology and neuropsychology and not a mitigation specialist. McGarrahan is sometimes hired by defense lawyers to independently evaluate their clients for mitigation purposes in death penalty cases