Time Essay: Psychology of Murder

FOR all its sinister drama, the Mafia's bloodletting accounts for only an insignificant fraction of the killings that occur every year in the U.S. The rising toll sometimes seems to validate H. Rap Brown's mordant dictum: "Violence is as American as cherry pie." In 1970 there were 16,000 criminal homicides in the nation—one every 33 minutes. With the carnage mounting—up 8% from the previous year and 76% over the decade—the U.S. is maintaining its long-held, unhappy distinction of leading advanced Western nations in the rate at which its citizens destroy one another. Philadelphia,...

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