Cover for PFEIFER: Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947. Click for larger image

Rough Justice

Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947

The history of lynching’s transformation from collective, popular violence to state-sanctioned, sanitized execution

In this first national, cross-regional study of lynching and criminal justice, now in paperback, Michael J. Pfeifer investigates the pervasive and persistent commitment to “rough justice” that characterized rural and working-class areas of most of the United States in the late nineteenth century.

Defining “rough justice” as the harsh, informal, and often communal punishment of perceived criminal behavior, Pfeifer examines the influence of race, gender, and class on understandings of criminal justice and shows how they varied across regions. He argues that lynching only ended when rough justice enthusiasts compromised with middle-class advocates of due process by revamping the death penalty into an efficient, technocratic, and highly racialized mechanism of retributive justice.

“This beautifully written and extremely well-informed study is a landmark that elevates lynching scholarlship to a whole new level. . . . Pfeifer has written a book rich in suggestion and insight that succeeds in every way.”--Journal of American History

"A stimulating and valuable study, which effectively argues its premise."--The Historian

"In this thought-provoking, impressively researched, sweeping study of rough justice in the United States, Pfeifer expands the history of lynching and its transmutation from popular, ritualized collective violece to state-sanctioned, sanitized execution, that is, legal lynching."--American Studies

"Pfeifer's insight, both logical and incisive, shows how the American collective will revamped the notion of lynching into easily digestible solutions of state-mandated death by lethal injection and high voltage."--Black Issues Book Review

“A landmark contribution to the literature on American violence and lynching in particular. . . . No extant book on the subject even attempts what this one so deftly accomplishes.”--W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930

"Pfeifer's insight, both logical and incisive, shows how the American collective will revamped the notion of lynching into easily digestible solutions of state-mandated death by lethal injection and high voltage."--Black Issues Book Review

Michael J. Pfeifer is an associate professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and the author of The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching.

To order online:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/74hxp5ad9780252074059.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

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