Review by Choice Review
In this latest entry in the "Crime Library" series, independent scholar Rosen (Blood Crimes, 1996; Gang Mom, 1998) brings a fresh point of view to American crime by placing it within the larger context of American history; at the same time he observes multiple disciplines (e.g., history, economics, literature) through the lens of crime. For example, he presents criminal behavior as both cause and effect of westward expansion, and argues that the consequences of developments like the invention of the telephone and a national system of roads were both positive and negative. Additionally, he documents firsts, such as the first attempted presidential assassination, the first and only criminal trial before the US Supreme Court, and the first DNA reversal of a criminal conviction. Organized chronologically, both by and within centuries, and extending from 1587 through 2002, the entries range from a paragraph to several pages. Of particular note is the extensive coverage of the criminal history of the American West. Rosen's tone throughout is objective but informed by a dry sense of humor. One might wish for more coverage of the 21st century and a more comprehensive index, but these are small complaints in the face of a unique approach and expert research. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Public and academic libraries; all levels. M. C. Duhig Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Libraries that found Bloodletters and Badmen: A Narrative Encyclopedia of American Criminals from the Pilgrims to the Present0 (1995) useful and popular will want to acquire this volume for its similar treatment of the broader concept of crime (as opposed to criminals) and for its thought-provoking ideas on how geography and technology have influenced the development and practice of crime in our society. Each chapter covers a span of years and begins with an overview that ties the evolution of crime to political, economic, and technological happenings of its era. The chronologically arranged entries describe cases, persons, and events that were either the first of their sort or unique in some way. For example, several assassinations (or attempted ones) are included, but not all; only selected terrorist events are described; and recent celebrity murder cases aren't here because they really aren't that different from the first ones. This makes for a book that is interesting to read or browse but not as comprehensive as the publisher's Encyclopedia of American Crime 0 (2001). There are a few surprising articles that the author appropriately links to the evolution of crime, but they require some pondering. For example, there are entries on the invention and mass production of the automobile and several others describing the origin and eventual establishment of the interstate highway system--not criminal activities in themselves but facilitating the criminal life. The text is accompanied by black-and-white maps and photographs. Sixteen color pages of historical maps do not add much value since they have little to do with crime. The bibliography includes many online sources. The "Geographic Index" is useful, but the "General Index" is uneven in that some articles can be located by the popular name of a subject ( Black Dahlia0 ) but not by the actual name (Elizabeth Short), and vice versa. This fascinating book will see lots of use and is recommended for public libraries. --Sally Jane Copyright 2005 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.