Learning to Live with Crime
American Crime Narrative in the Neoconservative Turn
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The Ohio State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Although book projects always have many origin points, the central arguments of this one first took shape in the classroom, in an interdisciplinary course entitled “Crime Stories” that I taught from the mid-1990s to 2007. My greatest debt is to the students who have enrolled in that course...
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This is an interdisciplinary study of the contemporary war on crime, and how that war has made its way into cultural representation and public consciousness. In particular, it is about the real-world tactics of this campaign—strategies that, surprisingly, have not often occupied much space in...
1. Getting Wise(guys): The Witness Protection Narrative
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At the close of the twentieth century, few stories about American crime received the attention accorded the scandal of the Boston-based gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. The story emerged from reporting in the local Boston Globe, from prosecutions in U.S. District Court—and then, most...
2. The Box in the Box: Putting Interrogation in Prime Time
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Throughout the years of the war on crime, contemporary police melodrama on prime-time television has been largely about establishing “street cred” with increasingly cosmopolitan and crime-conscious audiences. Especially in earlier decades, police shows commonly imitated the...
3. The Time of the Crime: Cold Case Squads and Neoconservative Social Memory
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In “A Crown of Feathers” (1972), Isaac Bashevis Singer tells the story of an orphan named Akhsa Holishitzer, doted upon by Polish grandparents who manage the estate of a local gentile Prince inside the Pale. Akhsa grows into a young woman so attached to her grandparents that she cannot...
4. Risk Management: Frank Abagnale Jr. and the Shadowing of Pleasure
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It was a particularly telling moment in the neoconservative turn when, in the early 1990s, a public-private collaborative of Philadelphia investigators, psychologists, and forensic sculptors began to reopen cold homicide cases from around the country. They called themselves the...
5. “Doing Time”: Keepers, Brothers, and the Prison Exposé
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In the fifth chapter of his Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (2000), undercover journalist Ted Conover pauses, as many authors of prison exposé will, for a long historical interlude. Breaking stride from recounting his enlistment in the state of New York’s training program for corrections...
Epilogue. Public Secrets
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During the writing of this book, I often found myself thinking about a scene from Danish author Peter Høeg’s international crime thriller, the mystery entitled Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1993). In fact, it is a moment cited by Philip Gourevitch in the book (A Cold Case) I discuss in chapter...
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Page Count: 202
Publication Year: 2010