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A History of Violence: From the End of the Middle Ages to the Present
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A History of Violence: From the End of the Middle Ages to the Present (Paperback)

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Synopsis

Violence is so much in the news today that we may find it hard tobelieve that it is less prevalent than it was in the past. But thisis exactly what the distinguished historian Robert Muchembledargues in this major new work on the history of violence. He showsthat brutality and homicide have been in decline since thethirteenth century. The thesis of a 'civilizing process', ofa gradual taming, even sublimation, of violence, seems, therefore, to be well-founded. How are we to explain this decline in public displays ofaggression? What mechanisms have modernizing societies employed torepress and control violence? The increasingly strict socialcontrol of unmarried, male adolescents, together with the coerciveeducation imposed on this age group, are central to Muchembled'sexplanation. Masculine violence gradually disappeared from publicspace, to become concentrated in the home. Meanwhile, a vastpopular literature, precursor of the modern mass media, came toplay a cathartic role: the duels of The Three Musketeers and theamazing exploits of Fant mas, as described in the new crimeliterature invented in the nineteenth century, now helped to purgethe violent impulses.



And yet we seem, in the first few years of the twenty-firstcentury, to be witnessing a resurgence of violence, especiallyamong the youths of the inner cities. How should we understand thisresurgence in relation to the long history of violence in theWest?

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