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I am looking for someone to review the following book for Socialism and 

The Punishment Monopoly: Tales of My Ancestors, Dispossession, and the Building 
of the United States by Pem Davidson Buck , Monthly Review Press, 2020.



The Punishment Monopoly challenges our everyday understanding of American 
history, focusing on the constructions of race, class, and gender upon which 
the United States was built, and which still support racial capitalism and the 
carceral state. After all, Buck writes, "a state, to be a state, has to punish 
. bottom line, that is what a state and the force it controls is for."

Using stories of her European ancestors, who arrived in colonial Virginia in 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and following their descendants into 
the early nineteenth century, Buck shows how struggles over the right to 
punish, backed by the growing power of the state governed by a white elite, 
made possible the dispossession of Africans, Native Americans, and poor whites. 
Those struggles led to the creation of the low-wage working classes that 
capitalism requires, locked in by a metastasizing white supremacy that Buck's 
ancestors, with many others, defined as white, helped establish and manipulate. 
Examining those foundational struggles illuminates some of the most contentious 
issues of the twenty-first century: the exploitation and detention of 
immigrants; mass incarceration as a central institution; Islamophobia; white 
privilege; judicial and extra-judicial killings of people of color and poor 
whites. The Punishment Monopoly makes it clear that none of these injustices 
was accidental or inevitable; that shifting our state-sanctioned understandings 
of history is a step toward liberating us from its control of the present.

This is a great book. It deals with the rise of the punative state and the role 
of whiteness in the development of capitalism in the USA. The author is an 
historical anthropology. 

Write to me at george.snedeker@verizon if you want to review this book. 

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