America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s

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$29.95  $27.85
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.4 inches | 1.46 pounds

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About the Author

Elizabeth Hinton is an associate professor of history and African American studies at Yale University and professor of law at Yale Law School. The author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime, Hinton lives in New Haven, Connecticut.


A must-read for all concerned with civil rights and social justice in modern America.--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Hinton masterfully examines multiple incidents across the country, illustrating not only the prevalence of rebellions but how ongoing violent racial discrimination is horrifically common. As Hinton links the history of rebellion to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, readers will be struck by the generational echoes of Black Americans' struggle for justice.--Laura Chanoux, Booklist, starred review
This penetrating and incisive account of Black rebellion is based on extensive primary research... Readers interested in social movements in the United States, past or present, will not want to miss this illuminating work.--Chad E. Statler, Library Journal, starred review
Few historians are defter at helping us make sense of our present than Elizabeth Hinton. . . . What emerges most clearly across the whole of the book is an urgent history of today. . . . To anyone in disbelief over the American fires of 2020 and 2021, America on Fire demonstrates why last year's rebellions were not unbelievable. They were an entirely believable--perhaps predictable, even--product of the failures by this country and its government to confront and eliminate the many forms of violence it has reaped upon Black America.--Simon Balto "The Metropole"
Hinton's passionate, occasionally gritty approach is the opposite of a gauzy PBS series: she drills down into the granular, highlighting the courageous men and women who stood tall in a hail of bullets.--Oprah Daily, Best Books to Pick Up This May
America on Fire illustrate[s] the origins and legacies of the rebellions that sprang from police incursions in Black life. Hinton demonstrates that these rebellions against state repression, and the reactions of the state to the violence, express a cyclical, concentric process. . . . Hinton's trenchant study... proposes that African Americans may not be able to free themselves without mixing nonviolent resistance and aggressive rebellion. . . . America on Fire closes with a 'Timeline of Black Rebellions;' those 25 pages correct any claims that the uprisings we've witnessed in America since Ferguson in 2014 are either new or over.--Walton Muyumba "Boston Globe"
[A] gift to organizers and activists. It is more than just a historical book. It is political education.--Derecka Purnell "Boston Review"
[A] groundbreaking, deeply researched and profoundly heart-rending account of the origins of our national crisis of police violence against Black America.... America on Fire is more than a brilliant guided tour through our nation's morally ruinous past. It reveals the deep roots of the current movement to reject a system of law enforcement that defines as the problem the very people who continue to seek to liberate themselves from racial oppression. In undertaking this work, Hinton achieves something rare. She deploys scholarly erudition in the service of policy transformation, propelled by Black voices whose hitherto untold stories of protest add much-needed sustenance to America's collective imagination.--Peniel E. Joseph, New York Times Book Review, cover review
Not since Angela Davis's 2003 book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, has a scholar so persuasively challenged our conventional understanding of the criminal legal system. To be clear, Hinton does not think she's merely engaged in an academic exercise to 'reframe' narratives or 'recharacterize' norms. Her work is far more consequential. She offers in America on Fire a vivid description of historical events. She provides an account -- as her subtitle suggests -- of an 'untold' story. Hinton tells this story with clarity, and her conclusions should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers. She charts a course to move beyond rebellions. The question, however, is whether the United States has the political will to do it.--Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. "Washington Post"
Hinton compiles a breathtaking list of more than a thousand uprisings, far beyond those with which we are most familiar . . . Hinton is not just recovering Black resistance; she is also exposing a long, and ignored, history of white political violence, used to maintain the subordinated status of Black communities . . . In some of the most powerful parts of America on Fire, Hinton systematically unravels the failures of police reform.--Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor "The New Yorker"
[Hinton's] retelling of this era of Black rebellion shatters the false equivalency that pundits so often implicitly draw between the state's violence against Black people and the violence involved in Black insurgency . . . One of the most moving elements of Hinton's that it leaves readers reeling from the litany of evidence of anti-Black police violence and the shortcomings of liberal reform with a clear sense of what can be done instead.--Charlotte Rosen "Cleveland Review of Books"