Elizabeth Hinton’s From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime is one of the most important books on public policy in the American twentieth century that I have read in a very long time. It rearranges how we understand the chronological and ideological foundations of America’s mass-incarceration epidemic, casting America’s punitive project as one of liberal origins and extended bipartisan development, and demonstrating how that project has been bound up in antiblack logics and ideologies from the beginning. If Khalil Muhammad’s masterful The Condemnation of Blackness several years ago sketched out how ideas about crime and blackness became rooted in the public consciousness during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Hinton’s book shows those ideas coming home to roost in civil rights–era federal crime policy.1 It is an essential book for any historian or policy maker who wishes...

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