- Paperback: 219 pages
- Publisher: McFarland (2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786431504
- ISBN-13: 978-0786431502
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mass Murder in the United States: A History
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"Well-rounded approach to the phenomenon of mass murder...an excellent historical analysis...an informative study." --Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture
"One of the most exhaustive histories of mass murder." --National Public Radio
"A fine piece of scholarship...detailed...very helpful." --Workplace Violence Prevention Report
About the Author
Grant Duwe is supervisor of research and evaluation for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. His research has been published in Crime & Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, Homicide Studies and Western Criminology Review. He holds a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from Florida State University.
Top customer reviews
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In any case I do not regret the time I spent reading this book - but then I read many books.
My friends read it too!
The prose does not always flow as well as one might hope, as an overall air of choppiness dogs the writing. However, the book is perfectly readable by any measure, and holds the reader's attention well. Deep detail is not an option, as the author is covering several decades in 220 pages, leaving little room for much of anything beyond an overview. This is a broad history, not a tell-all biography of a killer. Cheap thrills should be sought elsewhere.
Overall I would recommend this to any true crime enthusiast or academic scholar, as the information is solid despite the occasionally-drab writing. If you're interested in mass murderers in modern history, this is a very good resource.
Grant Duwe has a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from Florida State University. He is the supervisor of research and evaluation for the Minnesota Department of Correction, and has published articles. There were a number of highly publicized mass murders in the fall of 1991. Why does this happen (‘Preface’)? The most common form of mass murder involves a man who kills his wife and children. [“Wisconsin Death Trip” tells about the 1890s.] It examines how the news media publicizes mass murder. The perception of multiple murders as a recent event is based on newspaper reports, not reality (‘Introduction’). The year 1966 saw the murder of nurses in Chicago then the shooting at the University of Texas at Austin. The phrase “mass murder” was changed to “serial murder” to distinguish these events (p.8).
Mass murder was nearly as common during the 1920s and 1930s as it has been since the 1960s (p.11). This 2007 book examines the 909 mass killings that occurred from 1900 to 1999. It considers the effects of social, cultural, political, and economic trends. Why do journalists, scholars, and other commentators make statements that are not based on facts (p.12)? They have a political agenda in pushing restrictive gun laws and have succeeded (p.13). Chapter 1 discusses the patterns and prevalence of mass murder. It does not include collective violence. About ten serial killers are caught each year (p.17). About 27 mass murders take place each year. Does this correlate to the economy (pp.18-19)? [The drop in the 1940s-1950s may correlate to the higher percentage of young men in the military.]
These killers are described (p.21). Revenge is the most common motive. There are differences between mass murderers and serial killers, but they are mostly male (p.22). Mass killers have suicidal tendencies. The First Mass Murder Wave occurred in 1900 to 1939 (Chapter 2). America’s involvement in WW I began one of the most repressive periods in US history (p.36). Bombs attacked people and buildings (p.37). Wealth was concentrated in the richest 1 percent (p.38). Strikes lead to riots and to deaths (p.39). The Ludlow massacre shocked the nation but nothing was done (p.40). The improvements in wages and working conditions resulted from the labor movement. Economic losses caused a massacre (p.43). A good guy with a gun stopped him (p.44). The economic depression for agricultural products led to familicide (p.50). Lower unemployment and better economic conditions was followed by the lowest crime rates and mass murders (Chapter 3).
Religious commitment reduces crime (p.63). So too the lack of illegal drugs (p.64). [How accurate is his description of the shooting spree in Camden (p.68)?] The Second Mass Murder Wave was in 1966-1999 (Chapter 4). The Warren Court affirmed the rights of individuals. The increase of illegal drug use led to an expanded prison population and more crime (p.84). Drugs and violence are connected as part of the drug trade (p.85). Some mass murders are copycat killers (p.99). Very few of these killers are judged insane (p.104). What caused this increase (p.106). An increase in youths and a decrease in jobs. More divorces, illegitimate children, and single-parent families. [Declining incomes due to a lowered minimum wage and higher taxes too?] How many of these shootings were reported in your local newspaper (p.113)? Mass public shootings increased during the 1990s (p.115). [Was this caused by NAFTA?] Note how drinking alcohol is related to these killings (p.129).
Chapter 5 discusses the presentation by the News Media. [The “National Association of Editors and Publishers” in Washington DC advises radio, television, newspapers, and magazines how to play the news.] Most people depend on the mass media for information. This creates a mis-perception of strangers being the victims (p.132). Not all mass killings are reported in the media. Is this the result of bias? Crime reporting is a way to boost sales and increase profits (p.134). Violent crimes (which are rare) are over-reported while the more prevalent property crimes are less likely to be covered. Certain types of murders get more coverage (p.135). Profit-motivated mass killings get less coverage (p.147). These are locally newsworthy but few are nationally newsworthy (p.148). “News reporting misrepresents the social reality of crime” (p.149).
Do long-standing social problems become real only when they are publicized in the press (Chapter 6)? Is there an agenda in discovering new crimes (p.154)? He uses the example of serial killers (p.155). Was it a crime without historical precedent (p.156)? No. They created a profile (p.158). The threat of mass murder was used to argue for gun control (p.163), such as “assault weapons” (p.165). Workplace violence was overemphasized over the more common robbery-murders. The ‘Conclusion’ points out mass murder was common in the 1920s and 1930s, declined in the 1940s and 1950s, then began to increase in the mid 1960s along with homicide in general (p.173). [Doesn’t this correlate to prosperity?] The business of the news media results in a distorted image of crime (p.174). Mass murders are not new (p.176). The wars with Native Americans often had mass murders or massacres (p.178).
There was a massacre in 1858 Lawrence Kansas before the Civil War (p.178). Mass killings occurred during strikes. Violence was used to terrorize a newly freed black population (p.179). Homicides were as high or even higher in the 19th century (p.180). The victims were Native Americans, blacks, and union workers. What about mass murders n other countries, such as “running amok” (p.181)? They are seldom reported (p.182). What causes mass murder? One mass murderer had high lead and cadmium levels. Are there other factors (p.183)? Research would have to compare offenders and non-offenders. The author concludes that much remains to be studied. [Could the Bloomberg School of Public Health ever do this research? No.]