From the Web: The Rise of America's Prison Empire

Caleb Owen's picture

On Process, an OAH blog on American history, Robert Perkinson discusses the formation of the United States penal system and the development of his book Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2010). Perkinson describes the process of rewriting and publishing his dissertation project:

Because I hoped my book would reach advocates and policymakers, I also chose to work with a literary agent, Susan Rabiner, and ultimately to publish with a trade press, Metropolitan Books. This required a set of changes. To tell a story of national significance, I added substantial sections on New York and California. In developing my arguments, I shifted from the terrain of scholarly debate, which is relatively bounded and well-informed, to public and often polemical debates about race, politics, and the role of punishment in society. In style, I did my best to develop individual characters and capture the drama of events, even though the book is ultimately about institutions and social formations.

For more from Perkinson see: