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The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America

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A compelling case can be made that violent crime, especially in the period after the late 1960s, was one of the most significant domestic issues in the United States, and perhaps in the nations of the West generally. Aside from the movement for black civil rights, it is hard to think of a phenomenon that had as profound effect on American life in the last third of the 20th century. After 1965, crime rose to such levels that it frightened virtually all Americans and prompted significant alterations in everyday behaviors and even in lifestyles. The risk of being “mugged” became an issue when Americans chose places to live as well as schools for their children, when they selected commuter routes to work, and when they planned their leisure activities. In some locales, people were fearful of leaving their dwellings at any time, day or night, even to go to market. In the worst of the post-1960s crime wave, Americans spent part of each day literally looking back over their shoulders.

The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America is the first book to comprehensively examine this important phenomenon over the entire postwar era. It combines a social history of the U.S. with the insights of criminology. This work examines the relationship between rising and falling crime and such historical developments as the postwar economic boom, suburbanization and the rise of the middle class, baby booms and busts, war and antiwar protest, the urbanization of minorities, etc.

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