The American Response to Professional Crime, 1870-1917

Synopsis

Larry K. Hartsfield explores the impact of professional crime on American culture from multiple viewpoints. During the period under study the criminal played a central role in increasingly popular detective novels and also moved to center stage in serious fiction about the nature of humanity and the development of personality. Through autobiographies, thieves depicted themselves with characteristics that they perceived their audiences to expect. The criminal became especially prominent in a new subgenre of fiction, the literature of exposure, which included reform tracts about corruption in American life and exposes of urban crime and threats against the agrarian ethos. In addition, the thief was analyzed by doctors and sociologists. An extensive bibliography lists thousands of pages of neglected writing about American crime to complete this fascinating study of the American professional thief.