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The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

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Is America really an ultra-violent nation? This sweeping history by Chris Murphy, U.S. senator from Connecticut, interrogates the origins of our violent impulses, the roots of our obsession with firearms, and the national mythologies that prevent us from confronting our crisis of violence. In many ways, the United States is an economic, social, and political pacesetter. Y Is America really an ultra-violent nation? This sweeping history by Chris Murphy, U.S. senator from Connecticut, interrogates the origins of our violent impulses, the roots of our obsession with firearms, and the national mythologies that prevent us from confronting our crisis of violence. In many ways, the United States is an economic, social, and political pacesetter. Yet American ingenuity has failed to address one of the most fundamental of all human concerns: the imperative to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm. Alone in the developed world, America is bathed in violence. Our churches and schools, our movie theaters and dance clubs, our workplaces and our streetscapes no longer feel safe. Our political discourse is consumed by intimations of violence, and our foreign policy is centered on the violence that we export to the rest of the world. Violence has become, it seems, America’s most insoluble problem. But to confront this problem, we must first understand it. The Violence Inside Us examines the deep roots of human violence itself and the propensity of people to harm themselves and each other. The result is a carefully researched, deeply emotional, and personal book that dissects America’s violence obsession through an evolutionary, historical, and economic lens. It also takes a hard look at one distinctly American feature: our love of guns. Murphy tells the story of his profound personal transformation in the wake of the mass murder at Newtown, and his subsequent immersion in the complicated web of influences that drive American violence. Murphy comes to the conclusion that while America’s historical and cultural relationship to violence is indeed unique, America is not inescapably violent. We have the power to change, he explains, while detailing the reasons why we’ve tolerated so much violence for so long. Weaving together personal narrative, captivating storytelling, and compelling history, Murphy takes on all the familiar arguments, obliterates the stale talking points, and points the way to a fresh, less polarized conversation about violence and the weapons that enable it—a conversation we urgently need in order to transform the national dialogue. The Violence Inside Us is the moving and extraordinary result of Senator Murphy’s deep exploration of the roots and modern reality of American violence. It is also a work of honest self-examination that is exceptionally rare among the political class. This book is different, and it will make a difference.


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Is America really an ultra-violent nation? This sweeping history by Chris Murphy, U.S. senator from Connecticut, interrogates the origins of our violent impulses, the roots of our obsession with firearms, and the national mythologies that prevent us from confronting our crisis of violence. In many ways, the United States is an economic, social, and political pacesetter. Y Is America really an ultra-violent nation? This sweeping history by Chris Murphy, U.S. senator from Connecticut, interrogates the origins of our violent impulses, the roots of our obsession with firearms, and the national mythologies that prevent us from confronting our crisis of violence. In many ways, the United States is an economic, social, and political pacesetter. Yet American ingenuity has failed to address one of the most fundamental of all human concerns: the imperative to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm. Alone in the developed world, America is bathed in violence. Our churches and schools, our movie theaters and dance clubs, our workplaces and our streetscapes no longer feel safe. Our political discourse is consumed by intimations of violence, and our foreign policy is centered on the violence that we export to the rest of the world. Violence has become, it seems, America’s most insoluble problem. But to confront this problem, we must first understand it. The Violence Inside Us examines the deep roots of human violence itself and the propensity of people to harm themselves and each other. The result is a carefully researched, deeply emotional, and personal book that dissects America’s violence obsession through an evolutionary, historical, and economic lens. It also takes a hard look at one distinctly American feature: our love of guns. Murphy tells the story of his profound personal transformation in the wake of the mass murder at Newtown, and his subsequent immersion in the complicated web of influences that drive American violence. Murphy comes to the conclusion that while America’s historical and cultural relationship to violence is indeed unique, America is not inescapably violent. We have the power to change, he explains, while detailing the reasons why we’ve tolerated so much violence for so long. Weaving together personal narrative, captivating storytelling, and compelling history, Murphy takes on all the familiar arguments, obliterates the stale talking points, and points the way to a fresh, less polarized conversation about violence and the weapons that enable it—a conversation we urgently need in order to transform the national dialogue. The Violence Inside Us is the moving and extraordinary result of Senator Murphy’s deep exploration of the roots and modern reality of American violence. It is also a work of honest self-examination that is exceptionally rare among the political class. This book is different, and it will make a difference.

30 review for The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Z.

    Faulty premise. We are not obsessed with guns. We are obsessed with freedom. There is a reason that our founding fathers, after being oppressed then shot at, put the Second Amendment in place. As for me, I believe the only reason government would take guns away from law abiding citizens would be if they wanted to do bad things to us. Where I live, Chris, the government doesn't protect us. So I guess if I let them take away my guns I'll be victimized by criminals AND the government.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kales

    This is an emotional read. It's well-written and well-researched but it is a rough read. It's not one that I would read before bed. It takes some serious concentration especially if you aren't familiar with a lot of the policies or history in regards to violent, specifically gun violence. Even though you know where this book is going--considering the author and his voting history and policies--there is an even keel to it throughout. He covers a lot of ground with the central theme running throug This is an emotional read. It's well-written and well-researched but it is a rough read. It's not one that I would read before bed. It takes some serious concentration especially if you aren't familiar with a lot of the policies or history in regards to violent, specifically gun violence. Even though you know where this book is going--considering the author and his voting history and policies--there is an even keel to it throughout. He covers a lot of ground with the central theme running throughout. It's very much like a political science doctorate dissertation. I found myself learning a lot during the course of this book. I admittedly was not as well informed as I thought I was as someone who considers herself knowledgeable on this subject. The greatest part for me was the history. I had no clue how most of this went down. I like that he specifically spoke on violence as a whole. Even though it was mainly focused on gun violence, Murphy went into how America was formed through violence. Overall, I kept reading because so much of the statistics and history were fascinating to me. Some of the most interesting parts were the history of the Colt gun, the development of the NRA, the mass shootings vs the daily shootings in urban neighborhoods, and the personal points, like Senator Murphy's filibuster and the parents stories from Sandy Hook and Hartford. That said, there were some repetitive sections which I think will be fixed with the final book. Like literally the same sentences were used within pages of each other. Hopefully the editor will catch that. Overall, I thought this was a great, informative, and thorough book. It was worth every minute and every tear and every outcry. I hope more people will read it and educate themselves, even if one considers themselves to be knowledgeable on the subject of gun violence, gun reform, and the history of America. Conclusion: Keep

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Review to coIn 1764, my sixth great-grandparents were murdered and scalped by Simon Girty and a group of Native Americans whose reign of terror was waged to scare settlers out of the Shenandoah Valley. The Rev. John Rhodes, a Swiss Brethren and a pacifist, was an early settler in the valley. Unable to defend themselves, the community built underground cellars, but eventually they were converted by a visiting Baptist. One advantage of this change in faith was that they were allowed guns for self- Review to coIn 1764, my sixth great-grandparents were murdered and scalped by Simon Girty and a group of Native Americans whose reign of terror was waged to scare settlers out of the Shenandoah Valley. The Rev. John Rhodes, a Swiss Brethren and a pacifist, was an early settler in the valley. Unable to defend themselves, the community built underground cellars, but eventually they were converted by a visiting Baptist. One advantage of this change in faith was that they were allowed guns for self-protection. Our immigrant ancestors employed guns for hunting game and to defend themselves against the people whose lands they stole. Guns were safeguards in far-flung lawless frontiers and they were needed by state militias before a centralized government created the first American army. American has long embraced gun ownership. In The Violence Inside Us, Senator Chris Murphy notes that the Pilgrims required every man to have a gun. Murphy's life was changed with the shooting of school children in Newtown. As a newly elected senator, he saw the pain close up. Gun violence became his bailiwick. Our son was in junior high at the time of the Columbine shooting. A student at his school talked about bringing a gun to school. Our son insisted he stay home the next day. The threat was investigated and the student punished. But our son never again felt safe at school. Years later, and many school shootings later, we still can't guarantee our children that they will be safe in their classrooms. This passionate and well-thought out book addresses the central questions behind violence. Is it human nature to be violent? Why is America the most violent nation in the industrialized world? What can we do to alter the violence? Why are our political leaders loathe to pass legislation that protects innocent victims of gun violence? He looks beyond our borders to how America has taken violence abroad through war and weapons sales. Carefully building an understanding of the use and misuse of guns as rooted in human nature and American society, Murphy argues for reasonable legislation, on which the majority of Americans agrees, and explains the forces that prevent that legislation from passing. Murphy's personal transformation makes a connection and the stories he shares grabs you by the heart. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    This book has taught me why America is such a global outlier for higher rates of violent acts (mass shootings, grudge shootings, domestic abuse, & suicides); a romanticism of gun ownership and easy access to the most violent of weapons has thrown gasoline on the fire of an inevitably violent nation. I now have a firmer grasp of America's timeline of gun ownership, regulation, manufacturing, marketing, and deregulation, as well as the NRA's origins, transformation, and evolving influence on Ameri This book has taught me why America is such a global outlier for higher rates of violent acts (mass shootings, grudge shootings, domestic abuse, & suicides); a romanticism of gun ownership and easy access to the most violent of weapons has thrown gasoline on the fire of an inevitably violent nation. I now have a firmer grasp of America's timeline of gun ownership, regulation, manufacturing, marketing, and deregulation, as well as the NRA's origins, transformation, and evolving influence on American life. I'll let Chris Murphy stun you with the government's rejection of legislative solutions that'd save tens of thousands of American lives each year, but what stunned me the most was that my own faith in America government was actually renewed after reading this book - for Chris Murphy (and his team) to have written this, what in my opinion, reads like top notch investigative journalism or quite honestly true crime, is extremely uplifting for me. Despite our failings as a nation, this book proves there are still truly compassionate people on the side of LIFE - I have never been more motivated to help combat the challenges to curbing violence in general (poverty, inequality, & opportunity.) Chris Murphy, I'm happy to have been acquainted with you and your work, and I am so grateful for your service to this Nation!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tesia

    A great book for those who are also interested in American history and violence. I felt a lot of the books chapters were extremely long and could have been broken up better. I also thought a lot of information was dragged out, especially the history of violence. Overall a great informational book on guns violence and how it affects us all. Deeply moving and emotional in some parts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jane Mccartney

    Though violence can be a difficult subject to discuss, we MUST. Senator Chris Murphy takes on this tough issue in a very personal yet informative nature. Violence is the "elephant in the room of our society" and WILL continue to return until we change. As he points out, it's not just the laws and judicial system that need reforming. It's our ATTITUDES that must change. I encourage you to read Murphy's book. Don't look the other way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    It was a great look at a very harrowing subject. It was very interesting. It made me cry with all of the stories about people killed by gun violence. I think it is a must read for everyone of voting age.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thom

    This book was excellent. It is well paced, well researched, and gives a good picture into his character without it being "about" him. Chris Murphy has a great writing voice and analyzes the issue of violence and inequality as well as the lessons he has learned in his career.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexandru Miron

    This is not just about America, we should think world wide it's a mess.Interesting book good point, we are getting violence to far....

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diane Cline

    Very interesting and Educational!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Emotional and good intentions, but I didn't enjoy it

  12. 5 out of 5

    Roger Bailey

    Murphy tackles a deep subject on this one. The writing is great and when he tells the real stories behind tragedy it is at it's best. However, you don't feel there's any solutions here and sometimes the book uses weird logic to go from A to B.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven Ridgely

    Good information.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Nuccio

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katline Craig

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin Bell

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

  22. 4 out of 5

    Facsimismile

  23. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

  24. 4 out of 5

    Doug Wauneka

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leilani Zee

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Noel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  29. 4 out of 5

    Justine

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tami

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