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Book Review


What is violence? What may appear in its face to be a simple question does not have a simple answer, especially when we are searching for it within our legal systems. The answer is not clear, and yet it has wide-reaching and potentially life-changing implications. Professor and former Assistant United States Attorney David Alan Sklansky does not seek to answer this question, but rather suggests that there is no definition of violence “that will allow the category of violence to do the work that we have asked it to do.”3 In A Pattern of Violence, Sklansky instead turns to the answers of others—of politicians, judges, and US legislators, now and throughout the country’s history. Violence is often defined in order to serve a particular purpose; it is not neutral. A Pattern of Violence reveals how the US legal system’s inconsistent and sometimes contradictory views of violence inform the legal treatment of violent crime.

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