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The American homicide rate remains dramatically higher than that in other Western nations. News of a murder has become a routine event. How do we explain such high levels of lethal violence in the world's leading democracy? Echoing Durkheim's Suicide, this book focuses on one important phenomenon to explain larger currents in American society. Leonard Beeghley examines the historical and cross-national dimensions of homicides and evaluates previous attempts to explain it. He finds the sources of America's murder rate in the greater availability of guns, the expansion of illegal drug markets, greater racial discrimination, more exposure to violence, and sharper economic inequalities. He deftly blends the evidence related to each of these factors into a well-reasoned sociological analysis of the nature of American society. Features Highlights how sociology can be used to explain problems and seek solutions Distinguishes between structural and social psychological levels of analysis Provides a constrasting perspective to Messner & Rosenfeld's widely assigned Crime and the American Dream Uses metaphors and analogies in order to make sociological ideas meaningful to students Employs an engaging writing style to place the analysis in the scholarly literature Offers clear explanations of Durkheim, Weber, Merton, and others, that show their usefulness for understanding modern life