I just finished reading the descriptions of about 20 or so books about violent crime and criminology. Two of the books seemed especially interesting to me. I hope to read them both soon. (Of course, I have a long list of books that I want to read, so it takes me a while to get to any single book.) Anyway, here are the two books:
Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment by Harold Schechter – Overview: “Does violence in movies, on television and in comic strips and cartoons rot our children’s brains and make zombies-or worse, criminals-of adults at the fringes? In this cogent, well-researched book, American pop-culture expert Harold Schechter argues that exactly the opposite is true: a basic human need is given an outlet through violent images in popular media. Moving from an exploration of early broadsheet engravings showing torture and the atrocities of war, to the depictions of crime in “penny dreadfuls,” to scenes of violence in today’s movies and video games, Schechter not only traces the history of disturbing images but details the outrage that has inevitably accompanied them. By the twentieth century, the culture vultures were out in full force, demonizing comic books and setting up a pattern of equating testosterone-fueled entertainment with aggression. According to Schechter, nothing could be further from the truth. He also blasts those who bemoan the alleged increased violence in media today, and who conveniently scapegoat popular entertainment for a variety of cultural ills, including increased crime and real-life violence. Though American pop culture is far more technologically sophisticated today, Schechter shows that it is far less brutal than the entertainments of previous generations. Savage Pastimes is a rich, eye-opening brief history that will make you rethink your assumptions about what we watch and how it affects us all.”
The Next Attack by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon – Overview: “In this provocative new book, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon show how the terrorist threat is evolving with a broadening array of tactics, an army of new fighters, and, most ominously, a widening base of support in the global Muslim community. The jihadist movement has been galvanized by the example of 9/11 and the missteps of the U.S. government, which has consistently failed to understand the nature of the new terror. Left on this trajectory, much worse faces us in the near future. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Next Attack makes the case that America has the capacity to stem the tide of Islamic terrorism, but Benjamin and Simon caution that this will require a far-reaching and creative new strategy, one that recognizes that the struggle has been over-militarized and that a campaign for reform must be more than rhetoric and less than bayonets. And they point out how America’s increasing tendency to frame the conflict in religious terms has undermined our ability to advance our interests. Is America truly equipped to do what is necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, or are we too blinded by our own ideology? The answer to that question will determine how secure we will truly be in the years and decades to come.”
What do you think? Have you read either of those books? If you read either of them before I do, tell me what you think of it.