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The Six-Shooter State

Book description

American violence is schizophrenic. On the one hand, many Americans support the creation of a powerful bureaucracy of coercion made up of police and military forces in order to provide public security. At the same time, many of those citizens also demand the private right to protect their own families, home, and property. This book diagnoses this schizophrenia as a product of a distinctive institutional history, in which private forms of violence - vigilantes, private detectives, mercenary gunfighters - emerged in concert with the creation of new public and state forms of violence such as police departments or the National Guard. This dual public and private face of American violence resulted from the upending of a tradition of republican governance, in which public security had been indistinguishable from private effort, by the nineteenth-century social transformations of the Civil War and the Market Revolution.

Reviews

Advance praise:‘This fascinating book analyses the relationship between, on the one hand, the officers and institutions who wield violence in the name of the state and, on the other, the people and social groups who hold dominant positions in society. If these two things do not coincide, the result is political and social instability. That sobering conclusion is supported by a wealth of evidence arising from a prodigious amount of innovative research.'

Richard Bensel - Gary S. Davis Professor, Cornell University

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