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Article
March 5, 1997

Violent Land: Single Men and Social Disorder From the Frontier to the Inner City

Author Affiliations

Contributing Editor, JAMA

 

by David T. Courtwright, 357 pp, with illus, $29.95, ISBN 0-67427870-4, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1996.

JAMA. 1997;277(9):757-758. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330079041

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Abstract

Violence

The thesis of Violent Land is that violence in America is best explained as a consequence of a surplus of single men, and violence could be reduced if more young men were to marry and raise families. The author, David T. Courtwright, a professor of history at the University of North Florida, acknowledges that alcohol, racism, honor, and social influences on young men have contributed to their involvement in a disproportionate number of violent incidents throughout US history, but he argues that the root cause of these incitements to violence has something to do with being single. Consequently, says Courtwright, marriage and family life can "shape, control, and sublimate the energies of young men," thereby reducing violence. It may sound like wishful thinking, but Courtwright is dead serious.

To support his case, Courtwright has amassed a wealth of historical anecdotes and perspectives from "anthropology, biology, criminology, demography, epidemiology, psychology,

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