Liston's thesis, which is fitfully pursued but based, he claims, on research rather than preconception, is that we are...

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VIOLENCE IN AMERICA: A Search for Perspective

Liston's thesis, which is fitfully pursued but based, he claims, on research rather than preconception, is that we are becoming a less violent nation than ever in our history, and even he admits surprise that this seems so. American violence, Liston argues, has always been situational; once the causative situation changes, the violence fades, as with the student rebellions of the 1960's, dissipated by the end of the Viet Nam war, enfranchisement for 18-year-olds, the reformation of the Selective Service system, and related other gains in the fields of environment, educational control, etc. (Faithful to his argument, Liston concedes that black ghetto violence has every chance of recurring, since the responsible conditions have not been alleviated). Covering the history of violence through religious, racial, political and labor/management stages, the author does justify his situational contention; however, his resultant optimism does not seem warranted, since era upon era seems to provide a new causative situation as each old one clears up. Paradoxically, Liston maintains that if our history were accurately reported through schools and other educational sources (concerning Indians, earlier war protests, etc. etc.) we would understand ourselves more fully and be less surprised at and more cautions of potentially violent confrontations (e.g. Kent State). Liston consistently points out alternatives to his viewpoint, and this step by step presentation does provide one unique perspective on the controversial history of American violence. A well-argued thesis, even if the perspective does appear optimistically distorted by hopes for a better future where explosive situations are recognized sooner and alleviated non-violently.

Pub Date: April 22, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Julian Messner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974