Even in the aftermath of Donald Trump, many Americans consider the decades since the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s as a story of progress toward greater inclusiveness and equality. Hinton’s narrative uncovers an altogether different history, taking us on a troubling journey from Detroit in 1967 and Miami in 1980 to Los Angeles in 1992 and beyond to chart the persistence of structural racism and one of its primary consequences, the so-called urban riot.
... a groundbreaking, deeply researched and profoundly heart-rending account of the origins of our national crisis of police violence against Black America ... Through 10 crisply written and lucidly analytical chapters, Hinton reframes the conventional understanding of the long hot summers of the 1960s and their aftermath ... In a very real sense, America on Fire chronicles how law enforcement became the nation’s main policy tool both for stemming urban unrest and for stifling Black demands for citizenship and dignity ... One of this book’s many virtues is the way it contextualizes the emergence not just of the Black Lives Matter protests but of our larger contemporary moment ... Hinton’s unstinting examination of this history ultimately leaves one with hope for the future ... more than a brilliant guided tour through our nation’s morally ruinous past. It reveals the deep roots of the current movement to reject a system of law enforcement that defines as the problem the very people who continue to seek to liberate themselves from racial oppression. In undertaking this work, Hinton achieves something rare. She deploys scholarly erudition in the service of policy transformation, propelled by Black voices whose hitherto untold stories of protest add much-needed sustenance to America’s collective imagination.
This penetrating and incisive account of Black rebellion is based on extensive primary research, particularly from the archives of the Lemberg Center for Study of Violence ... Readers interested in social movements in the United States, past or present, will not want to miss this illuminating work.
This is the story Hinton tells with historical precision and analytical rigor ... sobering ... forces the reader to confront the limits and the failures of the civil rights movement ... Not since Angela Davis’s 2003 book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, has a scholar so persuasively challenged our conventional understanding of the criminal legal system. To be clear, Hinton does not think she’s merely engaged in an academic exercise to 'reframe' narratives or 'recharacterize' norms. Her work is far more consequential. She offers in America on Fire a vivid description of historical events. She provides an account — as her subtitle suggests — of an 'untold' story. Hinton tells this story with clarity, and her conclusions should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers. She charts a course to move beyond rebellions. The question, however, is whether the United States has the political will to do it.