*American Homicide* ($40, even though the release date is listed as 10/15)

This book has many good and quotable bits, for instance:

Anglos continued to kill Hispanics at a fairly high rate in the 1880s and 1890s.  Hispanics were five times more likely than the Chinese to be killed in interracial homicides.  They held a wider range of jobs than the Chinese did, moved more freely in society, and enjoyed full civil rights if they were citizens, so they came into contact with Anglos more often and posed a greater threat to them.  They also responded in kind to Anglo aggression, killing Anglos at eight times the rate the Chinese did.  But the Hispanic community, unlike the Chinese community, was becoming less homicidal.

That is from Randolph Roth's new and notable American Homicide (no subtitle, yay!).  Here is a PW summary:

[Roth] distills his argument into several key statistics, all of which hinge upon the fact that Americans are murdered more frequently than citizens in any other first world democracy: U.S. homicide rates are between six and nine per 100,000 people. Roth refutes popular theories about why this is so (e.g., poverty, drugs) and lays out an alternate hypothesis: "increases in homicide rates" correlate with changes in people's feelings about government and society, such as whether they trust government and its officials and their sense of kinship with fellow citizens.

The demons think this is an important book and the genetic influences on my behavior do not appear to contradict that assessment.  I found this bit interesting:

…although the FBI data are incomplete, there appears to have been a steady decline in spousal homicide in recent decades, from roughly 1.5 per 100,000 adults per year to 0.5 per 100,000.

This book is a treasure trove of historical nuggets, data, and clear writing.  It's the single best source on early murder rates in the American republic.  It's especially interesting on how the South evolved to be the most murderous region of the United States.  "There's just a whole lot of people there who need killin'," I recall one man (in another book) opining about Texas and its high murder rate.


Comments for this post are closed