Following a detailed and sophisticated review of legal theory and practice Buchanan concludes that legal tests of excuse and mitigation boil down to two questions. The first is `did he have it?' (intent). The second is `did he do it?' (action)...Buchanan argues that such an approach fails the severely mentally ill by not taking account of the extent of the underlying disability...the general detail and sophistication of Buchanan's discourse will justifiably serve to establish this slim volume as a standard reference.
Buchanan's critique of the legal provisions for mentally disordered individuals drew on many fine resources-philosophical, jurisprudential, legal, and psychological and psychiatric-and I found myself going back and forth in the book checking references constantly. The book is a fine example of good research and philosophical even-handedness. It provides copious references to important legal cases as well as other works relevant to the conceptualization of the current provisions concerning the psychiatrically disordered. For this reason, his work is a useful resource for those unfamiliar with the legal and philosophical bases for the legal provisions in the Anglo-American tradition. But more than that, his work is a provocative assessment of the current provisions governing the distribution of punishment for disordered individuals. Buchanan's book would be of interest to anyone who would like to know about the origins of Anglo-American juridical processes concerning psychiatric matters and would be of interest to those who are especially interested in reading a critique of these laws. It is a finely structured work, well articulated, and provocative. I have only the highest of praise for his accomplishment. Anyone interested in learning about this profoundly important topic would find this book a worthy place to begin.'