American Homicide

American Homicide

by Randolph Roth


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In American Homicide, Randolph Roth charts changes in the character and incidence of homicide in the U.S. from colonial times to the present. Roth argues that the United States is distinctive in its level of violence among unrelated adults—friends, acquaintances, and strangers. America was extraordinarily homicidal in the mid-seventeenth century, but it became relatively non-homicidal by the mid-eighteenth century, even in the slave South; and by the early nineteenth century, rates in the North and the mountain South were extremely low. But the homicide rate rose substantially among unrelated adults in the slave South after the American Revolution; and it skyrocketed across the United States from the late 1840s through the mid-1870s, while rates in most other Western nations held steady or fell. That surge—and all subsequent increases in the homicide rate—correlated closely with four distinct phenomena: political instability; a loss of government legitimacy; a loss of fellow-feeling among members of society caused by racial, religious, or political antagonism; and a loss of faith in the social hierarchy. Those four factors, Roth argues, best explain why homicide rates have gone up and down in the United States and in other Western nations over the past four centuries, and why the United States is today the most homicidal affluent nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674064119
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/05/2012
Pages: 672
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Randolph Roth is Professor of History and Sociology at Ohio State University.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Preface
  • Introduction

  1. "Cuttinge One Anothers Throates": Homicide in Early Modern Europe and America
  2. "All Hanging Together": The Decline of Homicide in the Colonial Period
  3. Family and Intimate Homicide in the First Two Centuries
  4. "A Sense of Their Rights": Homicide in the Age of Revolution
  5. The Emergence of Regional Differences: Homicide in the Postrevolutionary Period
  6. The Rise in Family and Intimate Homicide in the Nineteenth Century
  7. "All Is Confusion, Excitement and Distrust": America Becomes a Homicidal Nation
  8. The Modern Pattern Is Set: Homicide from the End of Reconstruction to World War I
  9. The Problem Endures: Homicide from World War I to the Present

  • Conclusion: Can America's Homicide Problem Be Solved?
  • Sources
  • Methods
  • Notes
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Roger Lane

Randolph Roth's American Homicide should take its place as the definitive study in its field.
Roger Lane, author of Murder in America: A History

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