The Roots of Violent Crime in America: From the Gilded Age through the Great Depression
Published by: LSU Press
Imprint: LSU Press
Sales Date: 2022-09-07
Published: September 2022
Imprint: LSU Press
Page Count: 418 Pages
Illustrations: 24 graphs
Dimensions: 152.00 x 228.00
418 Pages, 152.00 x 228.00 x 23.60 mm, 24 graphs
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The Roots of Violent Crime in America is criminologist Barry Latzer?s comprehensive analysis of crimes of violence?including murder, assault, and rape?in the United States from the 1880s through the 1930s. Combining the theoretical perspectives and methodological rigor of criminology with a synthesis of historical scholarship as well as original research and analysis, Latzer challenges conventional thinking about violent crime of this era.
While scholars have traditionally cast American cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as dreadful places, Latzer suggests that despite overcrowding and poverty, U.S. cities enjoyed low rates of violent crime, especially when compared to rural areas. The rural South and the thinly populated West both suffered much higher levels of brutal crime than the metropolises of the East and Midwest. Latzer deemphasizes racism and bigotry as causes of violence during this period, noting that while many social groups confronted significant levels of discrimination and abuse, only some engaged in high levels of violent crime. Cultural predispositions and subcultures of violence, he posits, led some groups to participate more frequently in violent activity than others. He also argues that the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s did not drive up rates of violent crime. Though the bootlegger wars contributed considerably to the murder rate in some of America?s largest municipalities, Prohibition also eliminated saloons, which served as hubs of vice, corruption, and lawlessness.
The Roots of Violent Crime in America stands as a sweeping reevaluation of the causes of crimes of violence in the United States between the Gilded Age and World War II, compelling readers to rethink enduring assumptions on this contentious topic.
Everyone has beliefs on the causes of violent crime, but most are based on myths, stereotypes, political ideology, and fact-free conventional wisdom. In this fascinating book, Barry Latzer presents actual data on the history of crime in America, filled with surprises and interpreted with insight and nuance. Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined"
Our national debates over race, policing and disparities in the criminal justice system are often as heated as they are uninformed, which is why The Roots of Violent Crime in America is such a welcome addition to the literature. Barry Latzer?s book offers historical context and cool-headed analysis to a discussion that sorely needs more of both. He follows the data where they lead and reports facts that other social scientists and journalists omit or obscure in the interests of political correctness. This is a scholarly but accessible book that meets the moment. Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist and author of "Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell"
Timely and well-written, Roots of Violent Crime is an amazingly thorough scholarly account; it is replete with well-placed descriptive statistics and includes a provocative and detailed granular historical analysis. For anyone truly interested in the sociology of violent crime, this book is a must-read. Elijah Anderson, Yale University, and author of "Code of the Street"
A forceful and eloquent book that reminds us of the importance of history and power of culture to promote or deter violence. Randolph Roth, author of "American Homicide"
Together with his earlier The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in the America, Barry Latzer has given us a masterful synthesis of an enormous amount of historical and statistical data to refute, quite convincingly, simplistic notions that violent crime can be almost entirely explained by socioeconomic disadvantage. There are, Latzer shows, many factors at play, including the size of the young male population, the role of gangs, the availability of firearms, and the use of narcotics. But perhaps Latzer?s most distinctive contribution is his emphasis on the cultures of the various subgroups of immigrants who came to these shores by the millions in the seventeenth through twentieth centuries. This is social science of the highest quality: nonideological, data driven, and characterized by a deep desire to understand and explain social phenomena. Joseph Bessette, Alice Tweed Tuohy Professor of Government and Ethics, Claremont McKenna College and Senior Research Fellow, Claremont Graduate University
Latzer's Roots of Violent Crime in America, along with his previous book, The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime, provide one of the best comprehensive analyses of violent crime over the last 150 years of American history. Together, these works will serve as the ultimate reference for anyone interested in the subject. Latzer's analysis is even-handed, thoroughly researched, and elegantly written. As I said regarding his first book, he convincingly cuts through the prejudices, passions, and politics surrounding both popular and scholarly explanations of this controversial subject. Latzer's Roots of Violent Crime makes his achievement even more magnificent. Roger Lane, Professor Emeritus of History, Haverford College
In The Roots of Violent Crime in America, criminologist Barry Latzer offers an engaging and trenchant analysis that challenges much of the conventional wisdom on the relationship between race and violence in modern America. Historians, criminologists, legal scholars, and indeed anyone interested in race and criminal justice will want to read this thoughtful, provocative book. Jeffrey S. Adler, Professor of History and Criminology, University of Florida, and Author of "Murder in New Orleans: The Creation of Jim Crow Policing"