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NCJ Number: 200380 Find in a Library
Title: Historiography of American Violence
Journal: Homicide Studies  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:May 2003  Pages:99-153
Author(s): Ira M. Leonard; Christopher C. Leonard
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 55
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines what historians have stated about violence in America since the 1969 U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence reported that violence has been a serious, recurrent theme in American life and culture.
Abstract: Two important historians, Richard Maxwell Brown and Richard Hofstadter (1969 and 1970) attempted to start a dialog within the historical profession about the place of violence in American life and culture; however, once the 1960's violence abated (mainly ghetto rioting, anti-Vietnam War and civil rights demonstration, but not criminal and interpersonal violence), the issue largely was absent from the historians' agenda. Although the debate about violence was shifting away from group violence toward interpersonal violence during the late 1980's and 1990's, there were two significant works that dealt with rioting and racial violence that demonstrated how these forms of violence were used for political purposes (Paul Gilje and David Grimsted). Meanwhile, David Courtwright and Richard Rhodes probed the issue of the causes of individual violence, providing theories that might be tested in future studies of interpersonal violence. Bellesiles, in introducing a volume of essays that focused on a variety of interpersonal violent episodes, argued that murder and criminal violence have been significant in America since the 1860's. Roger Lane surveyed the history of murder in America, documenting his argument that homicide and interpersonal violence have been significant problems since the colonial era. A number of other recent works have combined with the aforementioned works to suggest that the issue of individual interpersonal violence has finally been recognized by historians and legal scholars as a central feature of American life and culture. 30 notes and 62 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Cultural influences; Murder; Violence; Violent crimes
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