Cover image for Murder in New York City
Murder in New York City
Monkkonen, Eric H., 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley: University of California Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 238 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
1. Long sweep and big events -- 2. Lethal weapons -- 3. Gender and murder -- 4. Age and murder -- 5. Circumstances: when do people murder -- 6. Race, ethnicity, and murder -- 7. European context of murder in America.
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6534.N87 M65 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Murder in New York City dramatically expands what we know about urban homicide, and challenges some of the things we think we know. Eric Monkkonen's unprecedented investigation covers two centuries of murder in America's biggest city, combining newly assembled statistical evidence with many other documentary sources to tease out the story behind the figures.

As we generally believe, the last part of the twentieth century was unusually violent, but there have been other high-violence eras as well: the late 1920s and the mid-nineteenth century, the latter because the absence of high-quality weapons and ammunition makes that era's stabbings and beatings seem almost more vicious. Monkkonen's long view allows us to look back to a time when guns were rarer, when poverty was more widespread, and when racial discrimination was more intense, and to ask what difference these things made. With many vivid case studies for illustration, he examines the crucial factors in killing through the years: the weapons of choice, the sex and age of offenders and victims, the circumstances and settings in which homicide tends to occur, and the race and ethnicity of murderers and their victims.

In a final chapter, Monkkonen looks to the international context and shows that New York--and, by extension, the United States--has had consistently higher violence levels than London and Liverpool. No single factor, he says, shapes this excessive violence, but exploring the variables of age, ethnicity, weapons, and demography over the long term can lead to hope of changing old patterns.

Author Notes

Eric H. Monkkonen is Professor of History and Policy Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Author of The Local State (1995) and America Becomes Urban (California, 1988), he is also editor of the eleven-volume Crime and Justice in American History (1991).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

News reports and fictionalized accounts of homicide fascinate Americans, and the residents of many cities, like New York City (NYC), often use murder rates as a quality-of-life index. Monkkonen (history and policy studies, UCLA) provides a historical perspective on homicide in NYC free from media sensationalism. To explore the history of murder in NYC, the author compiled a sizable database covering the past 200 years. However, statistics provide only a framework, and Monkkonen uses coroners' inquests, court minutes, and police reports to examine the homicides committed in the city. The 37 tables and figures do not overwhelm but complement the author's analysis, revealing that the homicide rate in NYC, which was sometimes far below the national average, fluctuated depending on a variety of social and cultural factors. Urban historians will find his examination of the race, ethnicity, and gender of both perpetrator and victim informative, while historians interested in crime and the urban US will find this work a useful starting point for their studies on NYC. Upper-division undergraduate students and above. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

Tables and Figuresp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 The Long Sweep and Big Eventsp. 7
Chapter 2 Lethal Weaponsp. 26
Chapter 3 Gender and Murderp. 55
Chapter 4 Age and Murderp. 80
Chapter 5 Circumstances: When Do People Murder?p. 105
Chapter 6 Race, Ethnicity, and Murderp. 134
Chapter 7 The European Context of Murder in Americap. 151
Conclusionp. 180
Appendix on Sourcesp. 185
Notesp. 201
Indexp. 229