Many of us like to think that our scholarship speaks to current concerns. But it’s rare to read a study that addresses fundamentally important issues with such power as Elizabeth Hinton’s fine book. It tells us a great deal about the roots of mass incarceration, the deeply disturbing structure of domination that has 2.17 million Americans imprisoned and more than twice that number under probation and parole, more than 60 percent of them people of color.1 It does something else as well. Recently we’ve lived through a series of events—from Ferguson to Donald Trump’s election— that have dramatized racism’s enduring power. Still, it’s possible to see those events as aberrations, as many whites do: the overreaction of angry, ill-trained, or panicked cops; the rantings of a man who seems to have no sense of decency. Hinton strips away that illusion...

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