Murder in New York City

Murder in New York City

Murder in New York City

Murder in New York City


"Brilliant and original in very many ways, with nice touches of wit. I can think of no book on homicide from which I've learned more: the biggest, longest, and most careful longitudinal study ever, in the world's most important city."--Roger Lane, author of "Murder in America

"Eric Monkkonen is one of the world's leading crime historians. With characteristic diligence, he has gone back 200 years to capture the records on all homicides in New York City, consistently the nation's big city, and so a good model for urban homicide more generally. He explores in considerable detail the changing dimensions of demography, relationships, situations, and weaponry, thereby providing important insights that would not emerge from the more typical short-term analysis."--Alfred Blumstein, coeditor of "The Crime Drop in America

"The topic is obviously important, the research remarkable, the analysis very interesting, and the writing engaging. Despite the grim subject, this book is fun to read."--Ken Pomeranz, author of,"The Great Divergence


This book is like end-of-the-year stories about homicide in the media. These stories compare the just-ending year to the previous one. They rely on homicide counts as direct indexes to social life, asking two questions: Are things getting better or worse? And in either case, why? To acquire the homicide counts, journalists contact the police; to explain them, they often turn to politicians or “experts. ” This quintessential activity blends “news” with history and with underlying urges to predict the future and to assess personal safety. The resulting stories fit the bafflement, rage, and frustration at life's unfairness evoked by individual murders into a larger pattern that assuages, if it does not satisfy, our urge to understand. The same elements, in elaborated form, underlie this book as well.

The main difference is scope: I have looked back at two centuries, not 365 days. Such an extended retrospective requires different—and more . . .

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