Book Review: Bohm, R. M., & Walker, J. T. (2006). Demystifying Crime and Criminal Justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. xvi, 258

Date01 March 2008
Published date01 March 2008
Subject MatterArticles
gives shape to otherwise ambiguous narratives. The importance of this lies in the power of
narratives in driving international policy decisions; if those narratives are ambiguous, for
example, because it is not clear who the “enemy” really is, then the emergence of a suspect
gives shape and form to policy options that otherwise look confusing and unclear.
Most students of crime and the law tend to write and work as if their disciplines could
be treated as reasonable and ideologically neutral and objective in the sense of avoiding
distortion by personal value systems. At the heart of all examinations of crime and law are
suspects who have or have not been convicted. This volume draws attention to the need for
students of criminal justice to think much more closely about what processes lead to indi-
viduals becoming suspects and what the implications are of the processes themselves that
create suspects.
Overall, the mood I take from this fascinating book, from my perspective in the United
Kingdom, is that 9/11 and the Iraq war are possibly having a more profound impact on intel-
lectual thought in the United States, especially liberal thought, for this generation than did the
Vietnam war for an earlier generation. My reading of the situation in the United Kingdom is
that Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been designated the prime suspect, whereas in the United
States the trauma has been more difficult to deflect. This book helps me to form a view on
why the whole concern with terrorism and the war in Iraq is such an integral part of serious
debate in the United States. Over and over again, throughout this book, it is assumed that the
United States and its way of life is a distinct suspect. There seems to be little awareness that
there are other forms of democracy and other conflicts creating crosscurrents around the
world. For even though the contributors to this volume are drawn from many different parts
of the world and provide examples of individuals and states that come under suspicion for
many different reasons, there is still an emergent tenor that it is United States’s free market
capitalism that is the main suspect. As the many different examples show, identification of the
enemy also specifies who the allies are, creating the impression of monolithic factions when
in actuality there are many facets to suspicion.
David Canter
University of Liverpool
Bohm, R. M., & Walker, J. T. (2006). Demystifying Crime and
Criminal Justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. xvi, 258.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016808314547
The book begins with an introduction by the editors regarding their definition of “myths” and
how they come to dominate public discourse and sometimes, they claim, academic discourse
on the subjects of crime and criminal justice. Myths are perpetuated, they argue, because
of the short-term interests of several portions of the society, and the long-term interests of
the elites. They say those entities that benefit from myth perpetuation are the public, the
media, politicians, criminologists, and criminal justice officials, all of whom they go on to
discuss in some detail. The long-term interests of the elites are served, it is claimed,
106 Criminal Justice Review

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