Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s

Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s

by Michael W. Flamm
     
 

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Law and Order offers a valuable new study of the political and social history of the 1960s. It presents a sophisticated account of how the issues of street crime and civil unrest enhanced the popularity of conservatives, eroded the credibility of liberals, and transformed the landscape of American politics. Ultimately, the legacy of law and order was a political world

Overview

Law and Order offers a valuable new study of the political and social history of the 1960s. It presents a sophisticated account of how the issues of street crime and civil unrest enhanced the popularity of conservatives, eroded the credibility of liberals, and transformed the landscape of American politics. Ultimately, the legacy of law and order was a political world in which the grand ambitions of the Great Society gave way to grim expectations.

In the mid-1960s, amid a pervasive sense that American society was coming apart at the seams, a new issue known as law and order emerged at the forefront of national politics. First introduced by Barry Goldwater in his ill-fated run for president in 1964, it eventually punished Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats and propelled Richard Nixon and the Republicans to the White House in 1968. In this thought-provoking study, Michael Flamm examines how conservatives successfully blamed liberals for the rapid rise in street crime and then skillfully used law and order to link the understandable fears of white voters to growing unease about changing moral values, the civil rights movement, urban disorder, and antiwar protests.

Flamm documents how conservatives constructed a persuasive message that argued that the civil rights movement had contributed to racial unrest and the Great Society had rewarded rather than punished the perpetrators of violence. The president should, conservatives also contended, promote respect for law and order and contempt for those who violated it, regardless of cause. Liberals, Flamm argues, were by contrast unable to craft a compelling message for anxious voters. Instead, liberals either ignored the crime crisis, claimed that law and order was a racist ruse, or maintained that social programs would solve the "root causes" of civil disorder, which by 1968 seemed increasingly unlikely and contributed to a loss of faith in the ability of the government to do what it was above all sworn to do-protect personal security and private property.

Editorial Reviews

Political Science Quarterly - Edward P. Morgan

Meticulously documented... an important contribution to the literature on the 1960s era and its link to today's political discourse.

Journal of American Studies - James Miller

Law and Order is essential reading for anyone interested in American society during the 1960s

The Historian - John C. McWilliams

A cohesive study of the politics-law-and-order nexus.

H-Net - Timothy N. Thurber

This book will be of interest to anyone who teaches and/or writes about the politics of the 1960s.

American Historical Review - Michal R. Belknap

This is must reading.

Choice

Recommended.

Political Science Quarterly
Meticulously documented... an important contribution to the literature on the 1960s era and its link to today's political discourse.

— Edward P. Morgan

Journal of American Studies
Law and Order is essential reading for anyone interested in American society during the 1960s

— James Miller

The Historian
A cohesive study of the politics-law-and-order nexus.

— John C. McWilliams

H-Net
This book will be of interest to anyone who teaches and/or writes about the politics of the 1960s.

— Timothy N. Thurber

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231509725
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/05/2005
Series:
Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
312
File size:
6 MB

What People are saying about this

David Farber

Law and Order is an important work that will change how historians discuss the Sixties era. Flamm's work stands alone as a balanced, sophisticated account of how liberal and conservative politicians debated street crime, urban disorders, and civil unrest. Based on impeccable research, it lays out the electoral price national liberal politicians paid for inadequately addressing Americans' strong concerns about criminality and disorder while also exploring how key conservative politicians captured the law and order issue and rode it to electoral victory. Law and Order is well written, cogent and thought provoking.

Michael Kazin

This is an exceptionally smart, utterly realistic, and splendidly narrated study of a vital political issue that historians of the 1960s have ignored—until now. Michael Flamm explains how the fear of urban crime helped end the liberal era and begin the conservative ascendancy. It will provoke and enlighten anyone who reads it.

Meet the Author

Michael W. Flamm is associate professor of history at Ohio Wesleyan University and the coauthor of The Chicago Handbook for Teachers and Debating the 1960s.


Michael Flamm is Associate Professor of History at Ohio Wesleyan Universtiy. He is co-author of The Chicago Handbook of Teaching (University of Chicago Press, 1999). He received his Ph.D. at Columbia University.

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