Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History

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Michael A. Bellesiles
NYU Press, 1999 - History - 453 pages
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By any standard, the United States is the most violent nation in the industrialized world. To find comparable levels of interpersonal violence, one must look to nations in the midst of civil war.

Most observers of modern American violence do not consider the historical roots of current levels of violence, preferring to criticize American liberalism, permissive child-rearing practices, and excessive greed and individualism as the sources of the problem.

This collection of original essays examines the role of violence in America's past, exploring its history and development, from slave patrols in the Colonial South to gun ownership in the twentieth century.

Contributors examine both individual acts, such as domestic violence, murder, dueling, frontier vigilantism, and rape, and group and state-led acts such as lynchings, slave uprisings, rifle clubs, legal sanctions of heterosexual aggression, and invasive medical experiments on women's bodies.

Contributors include Jeff Adler, Bruce Baird, Robert Dykstra, Lee Chambers-Schiller, Philip J. Cook, Laura Edwards, Uche Egemonye, Nicole Etcheson, Evan Haefeli, Sally Hadden, Paula Hinton, Arthur L. Kellermann, Laura McCall, Kate Nickerson, Mary Odem, Craig Pascoe, John C. Pettegrew, Junius P. Rodriguez, and Andrea Tone, Christopher Waldrep.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Authority
43
Colonial and Revolutionary Era Slave Patrols of Virginia
69
The Social Origins of Dueling in Virginia
87
Women and Domestic Violence in NineteenthCentury
115
Lewis Cheneys Plot and
139
Vigilantism
149
Women
171
Innocence Guilt
261
Judicial Paternalism and
283
The Negro Would Be More Than an Angel
295
Homosociality and the Legal Sanction of Male
317
The Deviant
327
Cultural Representations and Social Contexts of Rape
353
Contraceptive Technology and
373
Finding Justice in an Ungodly
393

The Murder Trial
185
Body Counts
211
The Language of Lynching 18201953
229
Guns in American Homes
425
Contributors
441
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About the author (1999)

Michael A. Bellesiles is the founding director of Emory University's interdisciplinary Violence Studies Program, and author of Revolutionary Outlaws.

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