"INTERNET LAW BOOK REVIEWS" - Service Provided by Rob Jerrard LLB LLM
Author: Robert L Snow
Publishers: Praeger Publishers
Publication Date: 30th September 2008
Publisher's Title Information
While most people have heard about high-profile abductions such as the Elizabeth Smart case, such abductions are not isolated cases. The abduction of children occurs much more often in our country than most people would suspect, but because of a fault in our country's national crime reporting procedures, no one knows the true number. This book details the scope of the child abduction problem in the United States, and its very real danger. It covers the different types of abductions and discusses the psychological changes that can occur in long-term abducted children that will often stop them from attempting to escape, or even to seek help, though good opportunities may present themselves. Snow also discusses the danger to secondary victims of child abduction. He devotes several chapters to what both parents and the government can do to stop many of the child abductions that now occur, and, for those not stopped, steps parents can take that will greatly assist the authorities in quickly locating and safely rescuing an abducted child. He concludes with a chapter on the psychological and emotional concerns of recovered abducted children, and how families can help them re-integrate themselves into a normal life. Real life examples are provided in every chapter. It is every parent's worst nightmare. Someone has abducted their child, and no one, including the police, has a clue where the child is. But worse, while parents feel certain their child is terrified and crying desperately for them, they don't know if their child is being physically mistreated, sexually molested, or worse. The uncertainty and powerlessness can drive parents of abducted children to the edge of insanity. But there are measures parents and children can take to avoid being the victim of abduction. There are things families can do, too, to apprehend offenders and bring children home even after an abduction occurs. Here, a retired police captain offers expert advice designed to help keep children safe and to help families deal with an abduction once it has occurred. Practical advice is offered throughout to families and professionals that will help all involved handle this tense and terrifying experience. Featuring such prominent cases as the abductions of the Groene children in Idaho in 2005, Christopher Michael Barrios in Georgia in 2007, Zina Linnick in Washington in 2007, Mychael Darthard-Dawodu in Texas in 2007, Crystal Chavez in Texas in 2002, Elizabeth Smart in Utah in 2002, the Montano children in Florida in 2003, the Walker children in Indiana in 2007, the Nunez children in California in 2002, Emily Johnson in Indiana in 2007, Ludwig Koons in New York in 1993, the Beveridge children to the United States from Australia in 2000, Erica Pratt in Pennsylvania in 2002, Clay Moore in Florida in 2007, the Hari children in Illinois in 2005, Samantha Runnion in California in 2002, Ben Ownby in Missouri in 2007, Shawn Hornbeck in Missouri in 2002, Steven Stayner in California in 1972, Natascha Kampusch in Austria in 1998, Jessica Lunsford in Florida in 2005, Carlie Brucia in Florida in 2004, Amber Hagerman in Texas in 1996, the Nguyen children in Canada in 2006, and Cecilie Finkelstein from Sweden to the United States in 1975.
Table of Contents:
1. Child Abductions in the United States
2. Sex Offender Abductions
3. Infant Abductions
4. Psychotic Abductions
5. Family Abductions
6. International Abductions
7. Other Types of Child Abduction
8. Secondary Victims of Child Abduction
9. Why Some Children Stay
10. Police Response to Child Abduction
11. What the Government Can Do
12. What Parents Can Do
13. Helping Victims of Abduction Recover
14. Some Final Thoughts about Child Abduction
Juvenile Sex Offenders - What the Public Needs to Know
Authors: Camille Gibson and Donna M Vandiver
Publishers: Praeger Publishers (Greenwood Publishing)
Publisher's Title Information
Despite the fact that media bombard the public with the notion that sex offenders are everywhere-and could be just next door--official sources show that official sex offense rates have been steadily declining over the past 10 years. Yet, when a juvenile is accused of a sexually-based crime, media attention is swift and relentless. The truth about juvenile sex offenders is often, therefore, misunderstood. In many cases, such offenders are victims themselves. Here, Gibson and Vandiver reveal the truth about juvenile sex offenders and what can be done to help them and to prevent the cycle of abuse that leads to such tragic outcomes. This book sets the records straight about juvenile sex offending. It provides accurate, up-to-date statistics, real life cases, and information about offender characteristics, victim characteristics, family factors, social issues, media involvement, and other related areas. It offers explanations for juvenile sex offending from a variety of perspectives and reviews legal and criminal responses to the problem. Included are discussions of female offenders, punitive measures to prevent repeat offenses, and other steps the federal government and individual states are taking to address the problem. The authors conclude with advice on how to protect children from becoming victims and how to prevent sexual offending in the first place.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: When? How? And by Whom? The Circumstances of Juvenile Sex
Chapter 2: Explanations: What we Know and Don't Know
Chapter 3: High Profile Cases: How on Earth did this Happen?
Chapter 4: Are all Juvenile Sex Offenders the Same?
Chapter 5: Unusual Populations of Juvenile Sex Offenders: Females, Developmentally Disabled, and Very Young Sex Offenders
Chapter 6: Once a Sex Offender, Always a Sex Offender?
Guest Author: Philip A. Ikomi
Chapter 7: Our Legal Response: The Sex Offenders You Know and the Ones You Dont
Chapter 8: Putting all the Pieces Together: Separating Fact from Fiction
Endorsement From Frank P. Williams III
Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Houston-Downtown: Gibson and Vandiver put together what we know about these juveniles in a remarkable way. Their book is readable, thorough, and practical. Their discussion of the myths, realities and reaction to juvenile sex offenders is as complete a coverage as I have seen and their proposed solutions are indeed thoughtful ones. I can only hope that the book is successful because a more knowledgeable public might help to overcome the Draconian policies and legislation created in today's politically-charged atmosphere.
Endorsement From Karen J. Terry, PhD
Associate Professor and Executive Officer Criminal Justice Doctoral Program, CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice: With the increasing legislative focus on juvenile sex offenders, it is imperative that policymakers understand more about who they are, why they abuse, and their likelihood of recidivating. This book is an excellent source of research on the juvenile sex offender population and is an invaluable tool for those studying or working with this population in any capacity.
Endorsement From Mark Stafford, Professor, Department of Sociology
The University of Texas at Austin: Despite public outcry about sex offending over the past decade, almost all of the scholarly attention has been focused on adult sex offenders. This book goes a long way toward filling the void. In the process, the authors reveal how juvenile sex offenders differ from adult sex offenders and, hence, require different strategies for addressing them.This book effectively blends the latest information from researchers, treatment specialists, and law enforcement officials. Throughout, the authors critically examine current policies and practices regarding juvenile sex offenders, suggesting many possible improvements.
Stone Cold Souls -History's Most Vicious Killers
Author: Gregory K Moffatt
Publishers: Praeger Publishers (Greenwood Publishing Group)
Publication Date: September 2008
Publisher's Title Information
History's most notorious and brutal killers still enjoy fame as public fascination with their lives and their crimes continues to grow. Stone Cold Souls is a detailed examination of the most brutal killers in history. Moffatt does what he does best by looking at historical accounts of events, analyzing them from a psychological perspective, and presenting his assessment in captivating fashion. He examines different types of killers, offers case studies and historical context, and describes what sets these cases apart from other kinds of killings. Even in a day and age where pop culture has made serial crime a mainstay of movies and books, the depravity of the killers profiled in this work will still shock even a desensitized reader. Men, women, and children alike have committed crimes so atrocious that it is hard to imagine that these events are not works of fiction. Moffatt examines the difficult questions that inevitably arise when one reads cases of unthinkable torture and cruelty. Why? Were these people simply evil or is it possible that, given other circumstances, they could have redirected their energies into more productive outlets? The author answers these questions and others and reveals the lives and crimes of these ruthless killers.
Cold Stone Killers features such well-known cases as: Andrei Chikatilo, Marc Dutroux, Herman Webster Mudgett, Charles Ng, Leonard Lake, Lawrence Bittaker, Roy Norris, Ed Gein, Edmund Kemper, Henry Lee Lucas, Gilles de Rais, Ivan the Terrible, Richard Ramirez, Holly Ann Harvey, Sandy Ketchum, Mary Bell, Jesse Pomeroy, Josef Mengele, Marshall Applewhite, Jeffrey Lundgren, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Father Oliver O'Grady, Charles Cullin, Harold Shipman, Michael Swango, Myra Hindley, Karla Homolka, Aileen Carol "Lee" Wuornos, Elizabeth Bathory, Charles Sobhraj, Albert Fish, Donald Harvey, and Dennis Rader.
Table of Contents
Chapter One The Quest for Reasons
Chapter Two Ghost Stories and Torture Chambers
Chapter Three Murder for Sport: Serial Killers
Chapter Four Running With the Devil
Chapter Five Tainted Virtue: Young Killers
Chapter Six Primum Non Nocere: Josef Mengele
Chapter Seven Treasonous Guardians
Chapter Eight Beauty Becomes the Beast
Chapter Nine A Deadly Claim To Fame: Media Seekers
Chapter Ten The Margins of Existence: The Search for a Coherent Theory of Malevolence
Endorsement From David G. Myers, Hope College:
'Can we learn from humanity's worst as well as its best? By recounting many of the most gruesome and barbaric of human killings--this is not a book for faint-hearted bedtime reading, psychologist and crime consultant Gregory Moffatt lays bare our human capacity for evil, and the life experiences and thinking that create such evil.'
Gregory K. Moffatt is a college professor, author, newspaper columnist and public speaker. He is a licensed therapist who is Nationally Board Certified in Traumatic Stress, specializing in child sexual abuse and trauma. Dr. Moffatt has served as a regular lecturer at the FBI Academy, a profiler with the Atlanta Cold Case Squad, and a consultant to numerous airlines, businesses, and schools. He has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX news, as well as America's Most Wanted. He is the author of The Parenting Journey (Praeger, 2004), Wounded Innocents and Fallen Angels (Praeger, 2003), A Violent Heart (Praeger, 2002), and Blind-Sided (Praeger, 2000).
Gregory Moffatt is a specialist in working with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress, in particular cases of child abuse. That single fact explains why this is such an unusual and very rewarding book for anyone interested in criminological perspectives on social deviance. The title suggests yet another sensational account of the serial killers we all hear about every day in the popular press, but this is far from the case. Moffatt successfully mixes a series of comprehensive overviews of homicide, and integrates examples from both the 'celebrity' killers and from his own work and reflections.
The author usefully begins with a relation of standard applications of human motivation to extreme crime, neatly linking the popular conceptions of true crime in the media with actual, profound human motivation. This element of people-watching and objective analysis proves to be most worthwhile when Moffatt warms to his theme and recounts the life and work of several killers through the centuries.
It is very useful for the general reader of crime history, as well as for the crime historian or criminologist to consider patterns and similarities in homicide, and to have these related to theories and to social context. This approach means that regardless of the reader's background (and assumptions about murder) there will always be new things here.
The aim is to build the narrative towards a 'search for a coherent theory of malevolence' and that may sound either ridiculously ambitious or naïve. But on the contrary, this thinking is well worth some reflection. Here, Moffatt faces up to the issue of 'evil' and its place within a criminal justice system. He says, ' Whatever it is, this thing called evil, there must be something more to identifying evil than its appearance.' His conclusion is that his cases have presented us with behaviour that he is unable to explain, but his converse definition, insisting that he has written about what may be explained away and so is unlikely to be 'evil' is finally very helpful. In other words, we can understand the psychopathology of killers who have a documented process of living from childhood to adulthood, with discernible influences and tastes; we may be able to explain the modus operandi of a serial killer by means of biographical study. In some cases we can even study the trajectory of a psychopath from the first tentative 'almost crimes' in their behaviour, through to their killing patterns. But in the end, there is still a problem we can only call 'evil' and know it when we see it. Certainly juries throughout history, directed by powerful judges, have been reminded of its presence within the human being.
But Moffatt has a very helpful definition in the end, in spite of theological and moral perspectives. He writes that 'evil is a violation of the distinctly human nature of man.' In the course of retelling the crimes of such as Ed Gein, Ted Bundy and Adolf Hitler, he applies that well, with the assumption of course, that common values relating to the word 'human' may be relied upon. But with all reservations duly made, Stone Cold Souls is a fascinating and enlightening read for all kids of reasons, and will be of interest across several academic disciplines, as well as for the general reader.
Crime and Circumstance - Investigating the History of Forensic Science
Author: Suzanne Bell
ISBN: 987 0313353864
Publishers: Praeger (Greenwood Press)
Publication Date: July 2008
Publisher's Title Information
Today, there is more interest in forensic science than ever before. Crime and Circumstance weaves an intriguing tale of how an obscure corner of medicine dating back to ancient times matured into modern forensic science. The author explores the scientific and social threads that created forensic science and continue to drive its evolution. The result is an entertaining narrative that introduces intriguing cases and personalities across history, nations, and cultures and helps readers translate what they encounter in popular media into the reality of forensic science and laboratory investigation. Through historical and contemporary examples, Bell illustrates how cutting-edge research migrates to forensic laboratories, a transfer that is more indirect than people might expect. Although science and the judicial system both pursue truth, the interface between them is anything but seamless. This unique historical approach focuses on personalities from scientific law enforcement and emphasizes the myriad discoveries made over the years. Through these stories, the reader is introduced to the underlying science in an interesting, lively, and accessible way.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1. Sexy Science?
Chapter 2. The Scene of the Catastrophe
Chapter 3. Uniquely Human
Chapter 4. Settlements and Civilization; Justice and Death
Chapter 5: The Emerging Rules of the Game
Chapter 6: Science and Biology; Alchemy, and Chemistry
Chapter 7: One Elements Story
Chapter 8: A Visit from God
Chapter 9: Death Investigation and Forensic Toxicology
Chapter 10: Forensic Chemistry: The Color of Evidence
Chapter 11: The Eye of the Beholder
Chapter 12: Gunpowder and DuPont; Dyes and Polymers
Chapter 13: Microscopy and Trace Evidence
Chapter 14: Patterns I: Firearms and Toolmarks
Chapter 15: Patterns II: Measuring and Mis-measuring Man
Chapter 16: Blood: Forensic Biology Arrives
Chapter 17: DNA: The Genetic in Genetic Markers
Chapter 18: Admissibility and the Trilogy
Chapter 19: Profession and Personalities
Chapter 20: Professional Immaturity
Chapter 21: Let us Return to the Scene of the Crime
Suzanne Bell is a well known and accomplished forensic scientist in the U.S.A., and as such has written this interesting and informative book from her own perspective. However, unlike some other publications on this and like subjects that have originated in America, the author embraces this topic from a world-wide panorama.
This book weaves an intriguing and engaging tale of how an obscure corner of medicine, dating back to ancient times, matured into modern forensic science. Along the way the author introduces interesting and absorbing cases and personalities across history, nations and cultures which assists the reader to translate what was encountered then, into the reality of current forensic science and laboratory investigation.
The author states that she approached this subject through the lens of the three sciences - medicine, chemistry and biology, from which forensic science emerged. History of law and society weaves through the narrative to highlight their overlaps and divergences. The author asks the question, “What is forensic science?” because the label 'forensic' has become fashionable, it is being used in new, creative and as the author states, (and I entirely agree), often inappropriate contexts.
Before delving into the mists of time and taking the reader on a journey through the history of this subject, the author demonstrates how far forensic science has come from its very early days to the present time, by looking at a series of modern forensic scenes, major crime scenes and disasters, from a forensic scientist's viewpoint. Some of those examined include hurricane Katrina, the September 11th attacks, the D.C. snipers, the Christmas tsunami in South Asia in 2004, and the London and Madrid terrorist bombings in 2004 and 2005. The whole perspective becomes reality to the reader when the author states that before September 11th, a mass disaster was a plane crash or railway accident with casualties in the hundreds. After the attacks, hurricane Katrina and the tsunami, scenes were measured in miles, debris in tons and casualties were numbered in thousands or tens of thousands.
The author examines how, although the identification of the dead has become the most visible forensic response and responsibility, the modern definition of a crime scene, both the crime and the scene elements, has become somewhat fuzzy and indistinct. Whether September 11th was a criminal act or an act of war, hurricanes and other natural disasters are obviously neither, however they are all definitely forensic scenes.
This book then takes the reader back to the dawn of civilisation, and how all the ancient civilisations whether or not they evolved into empires, discovered the concepts of personal property and its protection. The appearance of medical skills and rudimentary knowledge of primitive drugs, (usually obtained from plants), is explained, and how more than any other science, medicine is the direct precursor to forensic science.
In the following chapters the author explores how various civilisations had rules and laws, and indeed a concept of rules of evidence, and supporting evidence, in what was evolving into a legal system and courts of law. Some very interesting cases from the Middle Ages are discussed and this is where documentary evidence is found of the first concept of an 'expert witness', although it is known that in seventeenth century Rome medical evidence was being given in certain cases before their courts.
Further evidence from these times shows how science began a slow ascension in the legal system as the role of religion waned, and how it was scientists and judges, rather than religious figures who assumed increasing responsibility for reconstructing events, weighing evidence and assigning probabilities of truth.
The following chapter explores the work, experiments and discoveries of early scientists such as Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and Sir Isaac Newton. The chapter on arsenic, entitled One Element's Story, is fascinating, as it details not only how arsenic was discovered, its properties, how it works and how it was used in many ways to kill numerous people, but also how a chemical test was developed to test for it, both anti and post-mortem. The author also tells the stories of several cases where murder was committed using arsenic, and then outlines the subsequent investigations and court cases.
There then follows a very informative section on the history of post-mortem examinations, how the Coroners' system was adopted, and how investigations into death were not only to enquire into crime, but also in response to the need for public health and sanitation controls.
There is an excellent section about the rise of medical examiners, amongst them Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Included here are outlines of several of Spilbury's famous cases. The next chapter deals with death investigation, forensic toxicology, alcohol, and other drugs and dyes.
Following this there is a very informative, (although in my view, American biased), section on the history of clandestine drugs laboratories right up to the present day.
The next chapter deals with the history of gunpowder and its many derivatives, how Alfred Nobel created and marketed dynamite, and how, later, another offshoot of the manufacturing process produced nylon and other synthetic fibres.
Chapter 13 gives a comprehensive history of microscopy and trace evidence, scanning electron microscopy, hair and fibre evidence, and concludes with a short section entitled 'Fibres Finest Hour' which relates the story of multiple murders in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1980s, which finally resulted in a conviction based almost entirely on fibre evidence.
Chapter 14 deals with firearms and tool marks, and along the way gives a brief history of the development of the gun and other firearms, comparison microscopy and gunshot residue.
The next chapter deals with criminal identification, the Bertillon system, and the history of fingerprints. I was glad to see that all the British pioneers in fingerprints are given more than a passing mention.
Chapter 16, entitled Blood: Forensic Biology Arrives, is not only about blood but also other body fluids, and takes the reader back to the late 1800s and how the following questions were starting to be answered - Is it blood? Is it human? Is all human blood the same?
For over half a centaury now, Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Examiners have had available to them a simple presumptive test for blood, and reading this chapter made me realise what a difficult journey it was for many years, to finally be able to answer those three simple questions.
Chapter 17 - DNA: The Genetic in Genetic Markers, tells the story of how the discovery of DNA and its self-replicating structure in 1953 continued until, in 1962 Watson and Crick won a Nobel Prize for their work unravelling the structure of DNA. The breakthrough, or as the author puts it “The missing spark combined with the right person”, came in the form of Dr. (later Sir), Alec Jeffreys working at the University of Leicester who had been studying molecular biology and human genetics since the late 1970s. The author describes Jeffreys work, and how the path to humans and forensic application trod an unlikely path through grey seals and the British Antarctic Survey Office. The author then takes the reader through what Jeffreys described as his eureka moment in 1984, when the implication of his discovery sank in over a period of just a few hours.
The first criminal case to be solved using DNA is then described, and how it was not only responsible for the conviction of a double murderer, but also for the release from custody of an innocent man who had given a false confession to one of the murders.
The chapter then goes on to describe the various problems that had to be overcome to get the legal profession and the Courts to accept and indeed understand the concept of DNA, how to define DNA results, and the problems that had to be overcome with regard to laboratory quality assurance, testing, and again, how the results should be presented.
The remainder of the chapter is taken up with the advances that have taken place in DNA and its profiling since 1984 to the present day.
The last three chapters of the book were for me the most interesting and informative. These chapters deal with the forensic profession and its many personalities, the quality assurance and quality control of laboratories, and the problems, (mainly in the USA), that have been encountered in this regard. Also included here are many interesting case and trial studies including several that have each in their day been described in the press as 'The Trial of the Century', and a short section entitled 'Forensic Science Fiction and Consequences'.
I was very pleased to read the author describe the London Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory, (where incidentally, I worked as Laboratory Liaison Officer for a period of time), as arguably the most famous and respected forensic laboratory in the world. The author then describes how in 1996 this lab. merged with The Home Office Forensic Science Service to create a National Forensic Science Service in the UK, distinctly different from America where federal, state and local entities can, and have established independent forensic science laboratories.
I entirely agree with the author when, in considering the impact of forensic science fiction, both the written word and in TV and films. She states that, “Popularity of forensic science fiction is a two-edged sword. Students are flooding forensic science programmes, which are springing up in colleges and universities, and forensic labs cannot possibly absorb everyone who will graduate with some form of forensic science degree”.
I strongly disagree, however, with the author when she states that it is her view that fingerprints will eventually go the way of the Bertillon age, in other words, slide into oblivion and only be of interest in an historical perspective. The foundation for this argument is that as DNA typing technology improves, it may be possible to obtain a DNA type from a fingerprint. This may well be the situation now. However, I would like to point out that, (in the UK), fingerprint identifications from crime scenes still amount to five times more than those of DNA identifications. There are many more fingerprints on the files of law enforcement agencies worldwide than there are DNA profiles, and it is still far cheaper in monetary and time terms to search a fingerprint against a nationwide collection than it is to first obtain a sample from a suspect, have this sample DNA profiled and placed on to a database, and then later obtain a DNA profile from a crime scene stain and search it against a database to get a match.
The final chapter of this book mentions a little about, what is for me a most important part of crime scene recording, namely, photography, and I would have liked a little more on this subject, especially how the police have at long last managed to overcome the legal profession and Courts objections to accepting digital photography evidence.
It is my opinion that this book is well researched and well written. If you are a Forensic Scientist, a student studying the subject, or if you are at all interested in history, whether it be medical history, scientific research, or even social history, then this book will be of great value to you. If famous trials and other criminal cases over the centuries interest you, then you will find this book a good read. I recommend it, and I am sending a copy of it to the University where, until my retirement, I taught forensic science, in the certain knowledge that it will of great interest to lecturers and students alike.
Andy Day, 2008.
Prepared Not Paranoid
Author: Jana M Kemp & Doug Graves
Publishers: Praeger (Greenwood Publishing)
Publication Date: 30th April 2008
Publisher's Title Information
In the wake of 9/11, many Americans feel their individual safety is threatened by forces they cannot control. Some take drastic measures and move from metropolitan areas thought to be targets, while most stay put and try to find ways to protect themselves in their homes, their workplaces, and their communities. Still, a sense of vulnerability or uncertainty can undermine feelings of safety and security. Today's dangerous world calls for daily personal power that overcomes paranoia and puts people back in control of their lives and their sense of safety. Drawing on 34 years of law enforcement work and training, co-authors Doug Graves and Jana Kemp present useful information and practical guidelines for keeping yourself, family members, and co-workers as safe as possible every day. Prepared-Not Paranoid presents methods for recognizing challenges or threats, innovative ways of thinking about safety, checklists with actions to take in various settings, and items to have handy when travelling to the local convenience store or around the world. This book serves as a guide for safe daily living, not as a self-defence manual. The authors raise awareness and offer important information so people feel more confident moving through daily life as safely as possible.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: This Crazy, Feels Dangerous Every Day, World Were In
Chapter 1: Recognizing Safety, Recognizing Danger
Chapter 2: Strategies for Staying Safe Every Day in Every Way
Chapter 3: Travel Safety
Chapter 4: Family Safety at Home
Chapter 5: Safety at School
Chapter 6: Safety at Work
Chapter 7: What about Weapons and Safety?
Chapter 8: What to Know about Disasters
Chapter 9: What you need to know about bad guys
Chapter 10: Being Vigilant without Being Paranoid
1. Checklists for your Car and Home
2. Workplace and Travel Safety Checklists
3. Creating your Personal Safe Space
4. Resources for Continued Learning
Sir Winston Churchill said “Americans and British are one people separated only by a common language.” This enigmatic comment is realised in “Prepared and Paranoid” by Jana M. Kemp and Doug Graves. Their arguments are based on the belief that since 9/11 many Americans are of the opinion that their individual safety is threatened by forces they cannot control. As a result while some move away from urban areas thought to be targets others remain and try to find means to protect themselves.
The authors consider these problems and provide ideas as to how to combat fears that may or may not be reasonable: a number of the subjects considered relate to normal living conditions and could therefore relate to pre-9/11 days. But it should be explained the object of the book is to raise awareness of many individual paranoias and provide information so that readers can feel more personally confident moving through daily life as safely as possible. After considering various matters in some detail, each chapter contains a check list.
It is suggested that there are visible signs that communicate safety awareness, such as walking with confidence with the head held high; also using a firm tone of voice communicates that you cannot be taken advantage of. But despite these observations, there are incidents that could occur over which you have no control that obvious signs of danger to note. Examples of extreme instances are a person holding a weapon in a threatening way; drunkenness; erratic behaviour and seeing a masked man enter a bank.
While many of the theories and proposals are sensible, there are facets of the book that are questionable. For instance, it is suggested that you should not enter a lift with people you don't know or make you feel uneasy. How do you justify that in a busy shopping centre, loaded with parcels - perhaps for Christmas - and need to descend to the ground floor? The likelihood of recognising someone in a crowded lift is extremely improbable; such places are always crowded with strangers.
It is also recommended that you do not open your door to strangers without first identifying them through a peep-hole or a side window. This is sound and sensible advice advocated by British police, but the book goes on to suggest that everyone should have an emergency exit such as a window that opens easily or, if not on the ground floor, a stow-away ladder.
But the authors do submit several proposals that are common in the UK, such as drink sensibly, employ only licensed cabs, don't leave bags unattended, keep wallets in front pockets making it more difficult for pick pockets, etc.
Another suggestion that to Europeans might appear to be way-out is that photographs of children should always be at hand and also to dress children in coloured clothing that can easily be remembered for law enforcement purposes. Law enforcement statistics involving children in America or Britain are not known but, if this should be recognised as essential preparedness in the former, it is difficult to appreciate that it would be so in the latter.
There is a chapter on weapons which, despite the current concern involving firearms and knives, is not wholly appropriate for the UK. Apparently between 90 and 147 million Americans own a firearm; 37 States from 50 have a “right to carry” law; gun homicide is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 14. As an anti-safety device attention is drawn to the fact that the TASER is now available for purchase by the general public. In the UK this is not so and there are strict guidelines laid down when used by the police.
While this book may well be of advantage to many Americans, I suspect that few in the UK would find it so readily useful. The check lists at the end of each chapter are interesting and perhaps some persons would find those useful but, on the whole, I suspect this is a work more for those living on the other side of the pond.