Friday, 30 May 2014

Crime And Society In England 1750-1900 by Clive Emsley

Paperback:  Karl Marx once commented:  'the criminal produces not only crimes, but also criminal law, and with this the professor who gives lectures on criminal law'.

Acknowledged as one of the best introductions to the history of crime in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 (2010) examines the developments in policing, the courts and the penal system as England became increasingly industrialised and urbanised.

The book challenges the old but still influential idea that crime can be attributed to the behaviour of a criminal class and that changes in the criminal system were principally the work of far-sighted, humanitarian reformers.

In this fourth edition of his now classic account, Professor Emsley draws on new research that has shifted the focus from class to gender, from property crime to violent crime and towards media constructions of offenders, while still maintaining a balance with influential early work in the area.

Wide-ranging and accessible, the new edition examines:

1)  the value of criminal statistics
2)  the effect that contemporary ideas about class and gender had on perceptions of criminality
3)  changes in the patterns of crime
4)  developments in policing and the spread of summary punishment
5)  the increasing formality of the courts
6)  the growth of the prison as the principal form of punishment and debates about the decline in corporal and capital punishments

Thoroughly updated throughout, the fourth edition also includes, for the first time, illuminating contemporary illustrations.  Rather than attempting a chronological survey of crime and the various developments in the criminal justice system, the book is divided thematically.

Roughly, the first half explores perceptions and the realities of crime from several angles:  the statistical evidence, class perceptions, gender perceptions, the perceived differences between urban and rural crime, the extent of crime at the workplace.

The second half of the book looks at developments in the pursuit, the prosecution, and the treatment of offenders:  the courts, the police and punishment.

Professor Emsley's book is an outstanding work for students, scholars and readers who have an interest in English history/crime alike.

About the author:  Clive Emsley is Emeritus Professor of History and former Co-Director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research at the Open University.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Flight MH370 The Mystery by Nigel Cawthorne

Paperback:  In a world where we can be tracked by our mobile phones, CCTV and spy satellites, things do not just disappear, especially not a big thing like a jumbo jet, but Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 did.

A wide-bodied Boeing 777 is so large that you could barely park it on a football field.  But soon after a routine takeoff from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the night of 7 March 2014, Flight MH370 disappeared from the radar with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.  No one could even be sure where it was last seen.  A pilot from another plane who flew through the area at the time said it was "a beautiful clear northeast monsoon night".

Debris was spotted hundreds, then thousands of miles apart, only to be discounted.

For weeks, this real-life version of the hit TV show Lost gripped the world.  Even Russia's invasion of the Crimea couldn't keep it off the front pages.  Were those on board to be found alive on a mysterious tropical island?  Had they crashed into the sea?  Had the plane been hijacked or brought down by a terrorist bomb?

As the story unfolded, more mysteries came to light.

Who had turned off the plane's tracking system?  And why?  Why had there been no 'Mayday' call?  And which way was it headed?

Why were governments and institutions that had information about Flight MH370 so reluctant to share it?  And why did the mobile phones of those on board continue to ring out?  Wild theories abounded.  Had Flight MH370 been abducted by aliens?  Or shot down by the North Koreans?

Its route took it nowhere near the Devil's Sea - the Pacific's answer to the Bermuda Triangle.  But somehow, in the world of the web, where every email was intercepted, the disappearance of MH370 began to rival the legend of the Marie Celeste, a ship found under full sail in the mid-Atlantic in 1872 with no one on board.  None of those who had been on board were ever seen or heard of again.  Numerous theories sprang up around this ghost ship.

Some time has passed since Flight MH370 vanished and the mystery continues.

In Flight MH370 The Mystery (2014), prolific author Nigel Cawthorne sifts the evidence, weighs the theories and unravels the mystery of Flight MH370.

About the author:  Nigel Cawthorne is an Anglo-American writer of fiction and non-fiction, and an editor.  He has written more than 150 books on a wide range of subjects and has contributed to The Guardian, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail and the New-York Tribune.  He has appeared on television and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Many of Nigel Cawthorne's books are compilations of popular history, without footnotes, references or bibliographies.  His own website refers to a description of his home as a "book-writing factory" and says, "More than half my books were commissioned by publishers and packagers for a flat fee or for a reduced royalty".

One of his most notable works was Taking Back My Name, an autobiography of Ike Turner, with whom he spent a number of weeks working with him on, taking up residence in Turner's house.  The book caused much controversy, resulting in court cases for three years following its release.  On his website, Cawthorne claims to be Britain's most published living author and the only person to have stood in the dock of the Old Bailey and testified to the US Senate.  Cawthorne currently lives in Bloomsbury, London with his girlfriend and son.  (Wikipedia)

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) is a classic essay on the distortions of history that occur when historians impose a rigid point of view on the study of the past.

It is not as easy to understand the past as many who have written of it would have us believe.  The historians who look at it from the Protestant, progressive, "19th century gentleman" viewpoint are defined by Professor Butterfield as the "Whig historians."

The Whig historian studies the past with reference to the present.  He looks for agency in history.  And, in his search for origins and causes, he can easily select those facts that give support to his thesis and thus eliminate other facts equally important to the total picture.

The Whig historian tends to judge, to make history answer questions, and to overdramatize by simplification and organization around attractive themes.

The value of history, however, as Professor Butterfield shows, lies in the richness of its recovery of the concrete life of the past.  The true historian studies the past for its own sake.  He sees "in each generation a clash of wills out of which there emerges something that probably no man ever willed," and his creative work is to make the past intelligible to the present by insight and sympathy with the conditions of the past.

All teachers and students of history would benefit from "purchasing and pondering on this intelligent essay."  (Sir Harold Nicolson, English diplomat, author, diarist and politician)

About the author:  Sir Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979) was Regius Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.  As a British historian and philosopher of history, he is remembered chiefly for two books - a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) and his Origins of Modern Science (1949).

Over the course of his career, Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man's developing view of the past.  Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives.  Butterfield thought individual personalities more important than great systems of government or economics in historical study.  His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation, and providence heavily influenced his writings, a fact he freely admitted.  At the same time, Butterfield's early works emphasized the limits of a historian's moral conclusions, "If history can do anything it is to remind us that all our judgments are merely relative to time and circumstance."  (Wikipedia)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Discipline And Punish: The Birth Of The Prison by Michel Foucault

Paperback:  In the middle ages, there were gaols and dungeons, but punishment was for the most part a spectacle.  The economic changes and growing popular dissent of the eighteenth century made necessary a more systematic control over the individual members of society, and this in effect meant a change from punishment, which chastised the body, to reform, which touched the soul.

Foucault shows in fascinating detail the development of the Western system of prisons, police organizations, administrative and legal hierachies for social control - and the growth of disciplinary society as a whole.

He also reveals that the comparison between a school and a prison is not purely facetious - prisons, schools, factories, barracks and hospitals all share a common organization, in which it is possible to control the use of an individual's time and space hour by hour.

"Discipline and Punish is clearly a tour de force...that rare kind of book whose methods and conclusions must be reckoned with by humanists, social scientists and political activists." - The New York Times Book Review

About the author:  Michel Foucault was one of the most influential thinkers in the contemporary world.  Social scientist and historian of ideas, Foucault was Professor of History of Systems of Thought at the Coll├Ęge de France.  He wrote frequently for French newspapers and reviews, and edited Critique.  Among his many publications are Madness and Civilisation (1961), The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972), The Birth of the Clinic (1973), Discipline and Punish (1975), and three volumes of The History of Sexuality:  Volume One, The Will to Knowledge (1976), Volume Two, The Use of Pleasure (1984), and Volume Three, The Care of the Self (1984).  Many of his books are published by Penguin.  Ethics, Aesthetics and Power, the three volume Essential Works of Michel Foucault, were recently published by Penguin.  Professor Foucault died in 1984.

Discipline and Punish (1975)  is translated from the French into the English by Alan Sheridan.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Industrial Revolution by Pat Hudson

Paperback (Epilogue):  The chapters in this volume have indicated that the industrial revolution witnessed considerable innovation in the organisation as well as the finance of industry and commerce;  in the knacks and work practices of production as well as in technology;  in urbanisation and demographic behaviour as well as in the development and disciplining of labour.

The role of government at both national and local levels was considerably transformed and the dynamism of the economy shifted firmly from agriculture to industry and trade.

Some regions rapidly industrialized, others concentrated on commercial agriculture or stagnated.

The industrial revolution radially affected the lives of women and children as much as those of men;  it involved consumption and commerce as much as industry, leisure as much as work, and it involved shifts in motivations, aspirations, ideologies and aesthetics as well as changes in the labour process and in the relations of production.

This volume represents a plea to reintegrate a wider conception of industrial revolution into our analyses of the period.  In the process, many continuities will inevitably be uncovered but so will those radical changes in economy and society that make the period such an exciting one to study.

The aim of The Industrial Revolution (1992) is to provide for students, especially at undergraduate level, a number of volumes devoted to major historical issues.  After an introduction which discusses the specification and measurement of 'industrial revolution', Part One is devoted to shifts in interpretation which have occurred in the last century and a half followed by a discussion of recent work on macroeconomic indicators, the role of the state, and the place of agriculture in industrialisation.  Part Two concentrates upon topics of central importance to our understanding of the period as one of radical socio-economic and political change which justifies the notion of industrial revolution.

About the author (Wikipedia):  Pat Hudson is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cardiff.  She is noted economic historian of the British industrial revolution who research has been noted for its stress on the wider economic, social and cultural aspects rather than an over-simplistic concentration of the role of individual entrepreneurs and gadgets.  She has also researched the textile industry especially wool textiles, proto-industrialisation, regional and local history.  Some of her work has also stressed the appropriate use of economic theory for historians and quantitative research method.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Crime, Police & Penal Policy: European Experiences 1750-1940 by Clive Emsley

Paperback:  How did ideas about crime and criminals change in Europe from around 1750 to 1940?

How did European states respond to these changes with the development of police and penal institutions?

Clive Emsley addresses these questions using recent research on the history of crime and criminal justice in Europe.  Exploring the subject chronologically, he studies the forms of crime, the changing interpretations and understandings of crime at both elite and popular levels, and how the emerging nation states of the period responded to criminal activity by the development of police forces and the refinement of forms of punishment.

Crime, Police & Penal Policy:  European Experiences 1750-1940 (2007, 2013) "will remain a hugely important reference point for historians and criminologists."

About the author:  Clive Emsley is Emeritus Professor of History and former Co-Director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research at the Open University.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Crime And Justice 1750-1950 by Barry Godfrey and Paul Lawrence

Paperback:  The years 1750-1950 were a crucial period in the shaping of the modern world.  Urbanization and industrialization gave rise to a host of new social conditions and problems, engendering massive changes in the nature of both crime and criminal justice.

Key developments included the end of capital punishment and the transportation of convicts overseas:  the rise of a system of mass incarceration (which has culminated in the UK today having the largest prison population in Europe);  the beginning of the public, uniformed policing;  the first mass-media moral panics about violent crime (from the 'garotters' to Jack the Ripper);  and the introduction of the adversarial trial process we know today.

At the same time, the Home Office (an organization which grew from just six clerks in 1817) began the systematic recording of levels of crime for the first time, and the new 'scientific' discipline of criminology was developed.  'Crime' thus moved from being considered an accepted, if irritating, part of life (like bad weather) to being a topic which commanded the highest political and media scrutiny.

Crime and Justice 1750-1950 (2005, 2011) provides a highly readable text for students taking courses in modern criminal justice history, and for anyone seeking to understand the origins of today's criminal justice system.

Each chapter covers a key issue central to an understanding of this historical background.  By drawing on primary source materials, the authors also aim to show how historical knowledge is constructed, and they explore a number of the historiographical debates which have arisen in the interpretation of this key period of criminal justice history.

About the authors:  Barry Godfrey is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Keele University in England.  Paul Lawrence is Lecturer in European History at the Open University in England.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects And The English Prison Commission 1895-1939 by W J Forsythe

Hardback:  In the early 1890s, there was prolonged criticism of conditions in English prisons and in 1895, new policies of relaxation of severity and commitment to individual reformation were recommended by the Gladstone Committee on prisons.

This study, which is based on two years' research funded by the British Academy and the University of Exeter, examines the ideological foundations and the operational history of these new policies up to 1939.

The author depicts the conditions in all sectors of the English prison system and carefully reconstructs the experience of prisoners and staff.  The work of the two very influential Prison Commissioners, Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise and Sir Alexander Paterson, is assessed and related to the debates and policies of the Edwardian and inter-war eras.

Bill Forsythe, the author, suggests that most of the new policies must be seen within the context of a strong contemporary commitment to classical notions of jurisprudence and to ideas of social cohesion inherent in the New Liberalism of Thomas Hill Green.

He argues therefore that the revisionist thesis advanced by Michel Foucault and others that modern Western penality has developed as a new kind of totalitarian order based on selective intervention, scientificity and expanding mental and physical control is only partly applicable to prisons of this period.

More importantly, those who managed and governed prisons clung to traditional ideas of limited deterrence and moral reformation based on a plain view that criminality was, in the main, the result of moral failure and they also worked vigorously and successfully for the reduction of the prison population.  

Fundamentally, Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission 1895-1939 (1990/1) discusses changing attitudes to prison and punishment between 1895 and 1939, a period which saw major advances in disciplinary morality, as it also did in gender and racial equality.  It is highly recommended for all university students of history and criminology.

About the author:  Dr Forsythe is a well-known authority on the history of the British prison system.  He is the author of A System of Discipline:  Exeter Borough Prison 1819-1863 (1983) and The Reform of Prisoners 1830-1900 (1987).  He has also written numerous articles about prison discipline between 1780 and 1939.  He has been a lecturer in social work at Exeter University since 1975.  Previously, he worked for ten years as a field and senior probation officer and he holds degrees in History, Law and Social Policy from Cambridge, Oxford and Exeter Universities.  He is married with one daughter.  

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Happy Belated Fourth Birthday To Choose and Book

Yes, it has been four amazing years since I started this book blog in May 2010.

I would like to say a big Thank You to everyone who visited and dropped in.

Let's keep reading and booking.