The Punitive Turn in American Life
How the United States Learned to Fight Crime Like a War
By Michael S. Sherry
312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, notes, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6070-7
Published: December 2020
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6071-4
Published: October 2020
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- Hardcover $35.00
- E-Book $24.99
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From the racist system of mass incarceration and the militarization of criminal justice to gated communities, public schools patrolled by police, and armies of private security, Sherry chronicles the United States' slide into becoming a meaner, punishment-obsessed nation.
About the Author
Michael S. Sherry is the Richard W. Leopold Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern University.
For more information about Michael S. Sherry, visit the Author Page.
"Sherry’s new book, The Punitive Turn in American Life, perhaps represents the culmination of his life’s work. . . . While scholars will continue to debate whether the United States has taken a 'punitive turn' over the past seven decades or so, the interlocking ills of forever war, mass incarceration, and policing cannot be denied. Alongside the work of many others, Sherry’s book will help disentangle these threads — and perhaps unmake the punitive society they have formed."--Los Angeles Review of Books
“An important education on the dangers and cultural powers our executives wield with their metaphors. Sherry’s book adds to the body of work that shows American life shifting towards a culture of punishment from the 1960s and 1970s on…bringing insights from his past books on American militarism to the subject of American domestic punishment. The combination is a rich one.” – Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
"Written with passion and verve and provocative in the best sense of the word, this is an important contribution to our understanding of contemporary American society."--Marie Gottschalk, author of Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics
"This is the work of a master historian, offering both broad synthetic understandings of American history and passionate engagement. Sherry's focus on the punitive turn is a powerful provocation. He expands the crucially important debates about mass incarceration in significant fashion."--Beth Bailey, author of America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force
"Sherry brilliantly shows how and why vengefulness and surveillance came to be at the center of American public life and understood in the language and logic of war. Coming as the legitimacy of both state and war were faltering as Vietnam was being 'lost,' the consequences were nearly as horrific as those of war itself—civilian death, loss of civil liberties and suspicion of dissent, and racial hatred. Knowing this helps explain how extraordinary and widely ramifying the current moment of resistance is."--Catherine Lutz, author of The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts