Books on Criminology


December 4, 2023

364. Books on Criminology

Further Reading:

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Michelle Alexander The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2010.

Civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander examines how Black Americans have been denied the right to vote since emancipation first began, beginning with early beatings of Black citizens attempting to vote by the Klu Klux Klan. Today’s method of mass incarceration of Black men, especially in cities, results in many being labeled as felons for life. These modern methods are also effective at preventing the Black vote.

Susan Brownmiller Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, 1975.

American feminist and activist Susan Brownmiller wrote this book about the sociology of rape, focusing on the differences in how the U.S. legal system treats men and women. Though the book was written over forty years ago, it is still relevant today.

Truman Capote In Cold Blood, 1965.

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is one of the most successful true-crime works of literary nonfiction ever published in the United States. In it, he tells how the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, were murdered by shotgun blasts to the face from escaped convicts Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock. Capote shares why the murders happened while also portraying the humanity of the killers.

Kevin Cullen and Sheeley Murphy Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice, 2013.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kevin Cullen narrates the career of James “Whitey” Bulger, an American gangster who built a criminal empire. With the help of a childhood acquaintance and Bulger’s brother Billy, a powerful Massachusetts politician, he became more powerful after his release from jail. Bulgar was eventually charged with nineteen murders.

John Gibler I Couldn’t Even Imagine that They Would Kill Us, 2017.

In Iguala, Mexico, on September 26, 2014, the police detained five busloads of students, including a soccer team. They immediately killed six students before abducting forty-three more. These abducted students have never been found. John Gibler investigated the events and recreated them in a crime story that reads like a novel.

Jason Hardy The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison, 2020.

Former parole officer Jason Hardy highlights problems with our system through the stories of seven parolees struggling to make it outside prison. Daunted by difficulties finding employment and lacking social support, they are often in worse shape after leaving prison than they were when they entered it.

Anthony Ray Hinton The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, 2018.

Former death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton reveals the events surrounding his 1985 arrest for two counts of capital murder in Alabama when he was 29. He was innocent, but with no money to pay for counsel and a justice system utterly indifferent to Black men, he realized that he was not getting out. Instead, he did his best to help the others incarcerated with him. Finally, in 2015, he was found innocent and released. His story is one of hope.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez News of a Kidnapping, 1996.

This international bestseller by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of Columbia’s drug wars in the late 20th century. The story begins with the kidnappings of ten Colombians, primarily journalists, in 1990 by the drug lord Pablo Escobar. They were meant to be used as extortion, prompting his government to help him escape extradition to the United States. Next, Marquez outlines the stranglehold of misery the drug cartels wielded over Columbian society.

Sierra Crane Murdoch Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country, 2020.

Journalist Sierra Crane Murdoch tells of Lissa Yellow Bird, who discovered when she was released from prison in 2009 that her home, the Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, had changed in ways she’d never imagined during the Bakken oil boom. When a young white oil worker disappears, her newly wealthy tribal leaders show little interest in figuring out what happened to him. Yellow Bird seeks redemption by investigating events surrounding his disappearance.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio The Undocumented Americans, 2020.

Writer Karla Cornejo Villanvicencio was an undocumented immigrant who graduated from Harvard as part of the DACA program. Here, she writes about others in the DACA program. Through their stories, she seeks to come to terms with her own.

For more information on the Further Reading series, see “Further Reading: Start Here.”

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