Violence in American Society: An Encyclopedia of Trends, Problems, and Perspectives

ABC-CLIO. 2 vols. Aug. 2020. 635p. ed. by ed. by Chris Richardson. ISBN 9781440854675. $204. REF
Richardson (communication studies, Young Harris Coll., GA) outlines the legal, cultural, political, and personal challenges and consequences of violence in the United States over the past 300 years. His and his contributors’ intent is to educate readers so they can apply their new knowledge, insights, and perspectives to understanding the origins and effects of violence and overcome it. The two-volume set consists of 23 entries of in-depth analysis on the major themes, events, and areas of violence from the country’s founding to the current Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. The work is ideal for student reports, and the writing is passionate but objective, with an excellent balance of contemporary topics, such as cyberbullying, sports violence, and hate crimes, and more familiar subjects including arson, murder, and robbery. Each entry follows the same format: general introduction, historical and current dimensions, media depictions, primary documents, see-also references, and lists of resources for further reading. Without exception, the articles convincingly demonstrate that violence has a long and varied history in American society and retains a dominant presence in contemporary life. The work would be a good companion to Violence in Popular Culture, which has shorter but more numerous entries, focuses exclusively on media forms such as gaming and movies, and includes international coverage. In contrast, this work’s content is more scholarly, robust, and topically diverse but as accessible and informative.
VERDICT An ideal overview of American violence that will pique the interest of general readers and provide high school students and undergraduates with an outstanding resource for reports and background research.
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