Book Review: Criminological Theories: Understanding Crime in America

Date01 September 2005
Published date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
officers are trained to carry out their duties during exigent situations and must be able to
restore the balance of order. During extraneous situations, officers must make split-second
decisions in the absence of complete and accurate information.
Because the law enforcement field is so complex, an emphasis has been placed on
resources that give helpful assistance to personnel. McMains and Mullins, the authors of Cri-
sis Management, have created a comprehensive handbook intended to help negotiators and
line officers through demanding critical incidents. The authors have left nothing out of this
book. The information presented to the reader is abundant. The text leaves the reader with a
knowledgeable insight into the complex area of negotiations. In sum, this book is a thought-
provoking evaluation of managing crisis incidents and is guaranteed to inform and enlighten
the reader.
Tiffany Stokes
University of Southern Mississippi
Robert A. Thompson
Old Dominion University
Criminological Theories: Understanding Crime in America, by James F. Anderson and
Laronistine Dyson. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002. pp. xvii, 345.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016805284518
Criminological Theories: Understanding Crime in America, by Anderson and Dyson, is a
textbook detailing a range of theories that the authors consider apposite to the American stu-
dent’s understanding of criminology and the theory of crime. The book’s subject matter in
itself is therefore welcome because there is now consensus that theory is (and has perhaps
ever been) fundamental to breathing life into criminology, envisaging just responses to
crime, and theorizing alternative prospects for criminal justice.
The book commences with an introductory section that outlines salient features of the
crime problem in the United States. This is largely a matter of attempting to explain the dis-
juncture of a decline in violent crime but rabid, widespread, and increased public fear of
crime. However, a convincing explanation of this anomaly remains tantalizingly beyond the
grasp of the reader. This, the book’spreface, is telling enough, revealing a central objective in
encouraging students to think critically about crime and particularly victimization, standing
in stark contrast to the textbooks of just a few decades ago, which did not prioritize victimiza-
tion in such a fashion. A trivial butnonetheless irksome weakness of the text is evinced by the
sundry definitions scattered about the introduction. The authors advise that “crime is defined
as any commission or omission of a law forbidding or commanding such behaviour,” a nicely
precise definition, which includes omissions, a generalization that may sit uncomfortably
with those possessing even a rudimentary understanding of the law.Similarly, criminology is
defined as the “scientific study of the origin, causation, nature and extent of crimes” (p. 6), a
248 Criminal Justice Review

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