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Rampage: The Social Roots Of School Shootings Hardcover – February 3, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (February 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465051030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465051038
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the rarity of school shootings, a point carefully reiterated by the authors-anthropologist Newman (No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City) and four students in a doctoral program she directs at Harvard University-it continues to be a topic that both repels and fascinates. Through an in-depth study of two pre-Columbine shootings, one at Heath High School in Kentucky, the other at Westside Middle School in Arkansas, the authors attempt to answer two troubling questions: "How could these low-crime, family-centered, white communities have spawned such murderous violence? How did these particular families, known and respected by neighbors, teachers and preachers, produce rampage killers?" Because the book grew out of research the five contributed to a congressionally mandated study, the authors had extraordinary access to residents in both communities and are donating their royalties to the two schools. They interviewed 163 people whose lives were touched by the violent acts of 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson, who shot four students and one teacher at Westside, and 14-year-old Michael Carneal, who killed three students at Heath. Although many of the factors the authors address (e.g., bullying, media images of masculinity, teenage depression, access to guns) have already received extensive coverage, the authors' sociological approach highlights how these problems can ignite in a young child given suitable circumstances. Unfortunately, the book is marred by repetition and excessive charts, tables and footnotes; at times, it reads more like a joint doctoral dissertation than a study aimed at parents and school administrators. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Newman, Harvard professor and author of several books on urban issues, spent two years researching the eruption of violence in recent years in suburban America. She focuses on Heath, Kentucky, and Westside, Arkansas, about three years after those small towns suffered the widely publicized ordeals of shooting rampages at local high schools. Newman draws on interviews with 163 people in both communities, including friends and families of the victims and shooters, students at the schools, teachers, lawyers, reporters, and psychologists. Laws protecting juveniles precluded interviews with the shooters (aged 11 to 14 at the time of the shootings), although Newman includes an epilogue detailing their lives since conviction and incarceration. She also examines studies of similar rampage shootings in the last 30 years and offers theories about what pushes youth into such violence. Detailed research includes a social pyramid of one of the schools, a paper written by one of the shooters, and a table recalling conversations between students before the shooting. This is a heavily researched but highly accessible look at a troubling social issue. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

It was a very thought-provoking book.
Wyoming resident
Disclaimer; Although this book is good, it is not entertaining.
cecelia
A must read for anyone with children.
Lacy Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Williams on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a pretty remarkable book. It is quite scholarly in nature, but gripping and accessible reading. As a teacher in a secondary school, I found it fascinating because it belies many of the popular misconceptions about schools and school shootings. It studies the students themselves, the school climates, the social pressures and situations, and the role of the family. I found myself nodding at various points and reading it aloud to whoever was in range. I have asked that it be ordered for our district's professional library. It's pertinent for any educator, but also for parents and concerned community members. It doesn't make me afraid, but it has made me reconsider some of the things I have taken for granted and it makes me more aware of student behavior and concerns. Above all it speaks to our need to better communicate within the school, and between the school and the family.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on April 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Research like this is useful for anyone who wants to understand the Virginia Tech tragedy. School shooters such as Cho Seung-Hui are not born raging to kill. They are molded through abuse. Cho is a textbook example of the type of school shooter featured in these in-depth case studies - shy, socially awkward, and tormented by high school classmates.

The social climates at the high schools attended by school shooters are typically vicious and hateful, with rampant sexual harassment of girls and women and antigay harassment of less dominant boys.

At Columbine High School, the most famous school shooting site studied in this book, jocks reigned supreme. The state wrestling champion, the leader of a clique of athlete bullies and the symbol of injustice for school shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, was allowed to park his $100,000 Hummer all day in a 15-minute parking space. The school indulged athletes' rampant sexual and racial bullying and physical abuse of others, including Harris and Kleboldand were given free license to abuse others. A coach did nothing when the athletes targeted a Jewish boy in gym class, singing songs about Hitler when he made a basket, pinning him to the ground and doing "body twisters" that left him bruised all over, and threatening to set him on fire.

Many of the school shooters featured in this book endured antigay harassment that contributed to their rage. Barry Loukaitis, who killed a teacher and two students in Washington state, was taunted by school jocks as a "faggot." Luke Woodham in Mississippi, who killed two students and wounded seven others, was often called "gay" by classmates. Michael Carneal, who killed three fellow students and wounded five in Kentucky, was labeled as "gay" in the school newspaper.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Fiction Fanatic on April 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An in-depth look at two school shooting cases, supplemented by statistics about the trends in school shootings over recent decades. Because each member of this group of sociologists writes his/her own chapter, there is some repetition of information, but the gain in reading each contribution is to understand the multiplicity of factors which coalesce in the shootings. It's not as simple as violent video games, or bullying, or family life, or youth culture, or socioeconomic status, or racism, or academic success. One key factor, among several others, is the tendency of school personnel and community members to overlook children's signs of distress and to give kids the chance to start over in a new year, neglecting to accumulate a historical record of kids' transgressions and thereby succombing to a kind of wishful thinking that kids will turn out okay in the end. So many do, but those who turn violent have escaped the radar of the adult world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By F. Penman on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With the thwarting of yet another rampage shooting making headlines in Massachusetts, and one that allegedly involves the son of a chief of police, the relevance of Katherine Newman's study has been dramatically underlined. I read the book as the parent of teenagers and found it both chilling and informative. Chilling because it appears that the discovery of such plots is still often fortuitous. The excellent analysis of why these shootings occur gives no easy reassurance but does offer some help for us to understand and, hopefully, points to some ways in which we can help abort other shootings. "Rampage" is informative because the authors study not just what led to the news headlines but include an examination of how the communities coped in the aftermath of the tragedies. The book is easily accessible to non-sociologists without being sensationalist in tone. I hope it is being read by many educators and parents.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Davis on July 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This excellent and practical book rests on in-depth interviews at the scene of two school shootings and makes clear, research-based recommendations for schools. For all of us who have wondered why these shootings happened and what we can do to prevent them, this book is indispensable.

Stan Davis

[...]
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Superhero on February 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't want to say "I'm a big Fan" of this genre, But I do my fair share of reading about school shooters & Rampage Killers.

This book does not really bring anything new to the table, but is worth having if for no other reason than it has a history of shootings that stretches all the way back to the 70's. (All trends, graphs and studies usually start in the 90's when the killings reached their appex.) It was interesting to see that

back then the trend tended to be "Shoot Authority Figures!" as

opposed to today's killers who tend to hunt their peers instead.

Makes the book worth having, buy it.
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