THE AMERICAN WAY OF VIOLENCE by Alphonso Pinkney

THE AMERICAN WAY OF VIOLENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

America is a brutal and violent society says Professor Pinkney and likely to become more so. By way of evidence: the homicide rate (four to twelve times higher than in other industrialized countries); industrial strife including the 1913 Calumet, Michigan copper strike, and the Ludlow massacre; Vietnam atrocities and military incursions into Latin America; lynchings (4,736 between 1882 and 1962); race riots from East St. Louis in 1917 to Watts in 1965; Indian massacres, ""police violence,"" the '68 bust at Columbia University, the Chicago Democratic Convention, Panther murders, political assassinations, child abuse, the two-fisted detective on your TV screen, and more, much more. A rummaging of the history books to buttress H. Rap Brown's quip that violence is as American as cherry pie. How come? Well, here Pinkney has problems. To explain this dismal record he offers Calvinism, Social Darwinism, Anti-Communism, and the frustration of the American Dream. And if that seems a little vague and vast, try Racism, Capitalism, and resistance to change -- Pinkney ladles on the abstractions like slop gravy. Moral indignation substitutes for analysis and pat generalizations about the U.S. -- ""a culture which has thrived on death and human destruction"" -- become irritating. Cliches abound: from the ""anti-humanitarian ethos"" to the skewed priorities of the federal budget which emphasize ""increasing profits rather than serving human needs."" Foundering somewhere between limp polemics and secondhand research this is no more than a tediously elaborated truism.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1971
Publisher: Random House