Book Review: Block, S. (2006). Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. viii, 276

Date01 March 2008
Published date01 March 2008
Subject MatterArticles
Book Reviews 99
chapter of this section explores future trends in understanding and responding to criminal
behavior. Distinctively, forensic psychology as an educational model, procedural and com-
monsense justice, and therapeutic jurisprudence as new theoretical paradigms, and mental
health courts, therapeutic communities, restorative justice, and mediation programs as
emerging community prevention and intervention programs are explored.
There are numerous advantages of this text. First off, Criminal Behavior is exceptionally
well organized. Both students and faculty will benefit from the conceptual design of this
text. Another strength is the discussion questions provided at the end of each chapter. These
questions provide the reader a great tool for recapitulating the information covered in the
chapter. The questions could also be used within a classroom setting to facilitate student
learning and class discussion. Finally, this text includes several different perspectives in an
attempt to facilitate the reader’s understanding of criminal behavior. This text could provide
a good fit for an instructor teaching an entry-level course on offender behavior, where the
instructor wants more of a general approach to explaining criminal behavior.
A shortcoming of this text is the rather underdeveloped theoretical section (Part I). While not
a criminology text per se, Criminal Behavior provides a rather sparse description of the
causal mechanisms of the theories explored by Arrigo. In addition, this section would have
benefited from the inclusion of life course, developmental, and integrated theories, all of
which are applicable to explaining criminal behavior.
This book provides students with a rather distinctive approach to understanding criminal
behavior—one that broaches several related but often separate fields of study. In doing so,
Arrigo has provided his readers a relatively systemic understanding of criminal behavior.
This text is a welcome addition to the multidisciplinary field of understanding and respond-
ing to crime, criminality, and most purposely, criminal behavior.
Lisa R. Muftic´
University of North Texas
Block, S. (2006). Rape and Sexual Power in Early America.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. viii, 276.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016808314550
In this book, Sharon Block uses a historical approach to examine the dynamics of rape and
sexuality in early America between 1700 and 1820. During her research for this project,
Block analyzed 912 incidents of sexual coercion. Most of these cases were documented in
criminal proceedings, but the author also had access to diaries, letters, and civil court records.
These sources provide additional insights into rapes that were not prosecuted during this
period. One of the main themes of Block’s book is that power has been used throughout
American history to construct and negotiate images of sexual coercion. For example, Block
makes a compelling argument that African American males were disproportionately given the
death penalty for committing rapes, especially if these attacks were against White victims.
During this same period, according to Block, powerful White men were often able to avoid
any meaningful type of punishment for engaging in essentially the same behavior.

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