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

November 1, 2020
The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

Is America really an ultra-violent nation? This sweepinghistory by Chris Murphy, U.S. senator from Connecticut,interrogates the origins of our violent impulses, the roots of ourobsession with firearms, and the national mythologies that preventus from confronting our crisis of violence.In many ways, the United States is an economic, social, andpolitical pacesetter. Yet American ingenuity has failed to addressone of the most fundamental of all human concerns: the imperativeto keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm. Alone in thedeveloped world, America is bathed in violence. Our churches andschools, our movie theaters and dance clubs, our workplaces and ourstreetscapes no longer feel safe. Our political discourse isconsumed by intimations of violence, and our foreign policy iscentered on the violence that we export to the rest of the world.Violence has become, it seems, America’s most insolubleproblem.But to confront this problem, we must first understand it. TheViolence Inside Us examines the deep roots of human violence itselfand the propensity of people to harm themselves and each other. Theresult is a carefully researched, deeply emotional, and personalbook that dissects America’s violence obsession through anevolutionary, historical, and economic lens. It also takes a hardlook at one distinctly American feature: our love of guns.Murphy tells the story of his profound personal transformationin the wake of the mass murder at Newtown, and his subsequentimmersion in the complicated web of influences that drive Americanviolence. Murphy comes to the conclusion that while America’shistorical and cultural relationship to violence is indeed unique,America is not inescapably violent. We have the power to change, heexplains, while detailing the reasons why we’ve tolerated so muchviolence for so long. Weaving together personal narrative,captivating storytelling, and compelling history, Murphy takes onall the familiar arguments, obliterates the stale talking points,and points the way to a fresh, less polarized conversation aboutviolence and the weapons that enable it—a conversation we urgentlyneed in order to transform the national dialogue.The Violence Inside Us is the moving and extraordinary result ofSenator Murphy’s deep exploration of the roots and modern realityof American violence. It is also a work of honest self-examinationthat is exceptionally rare among the political class. This book isdifferent, and it will make a difference.