The Six-Shooter State: Public and Private Violence in American Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

American violence is schizophrenic.  On the one hand, many Americans support the creation of a powerful bureaucracy of coercion made up of police and military forces in order to provide public security.  At the same time, many of those citizens also demand the private right to protect their own families, home, and property. This book diagnoses this schizophrenia as a product of a distinctive institutional history, in which private forms of violence – vigilantes, private detectives, mercenary gunfighters – emerged in concert with the creation of new public and state forms of violence such as police departments or the National Guard. This dual public and private face of American violence resulted from the upending of a tradition of republican governance, in which public security had been indistinguishable from private effort, by the nineteenth century social transformations of the Civil War and the Market Revolution.

Appendix and Bibliography


The Lives of Guns, editor with Andrew Poe and Austin Sarat (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Guns are more important than ever before, but how might we rethink their role in society? Drawing on a range of disciplinary commitments and methodologies, the contributors to this volume explore how guns themselves shape and interact with our social, political, and private lives. Together the contributors – including historians, political theorists, sociologists, criminologists, and ethnographers -- consider the gun not merely as a tool but also, potentially, as an actor, an object with the potential to affect our choices, our interactions, our emotions, and our bodies in often surprising ways. 

Articles and Chapters

Shocked into Service: How Free Trade Increases the U.S. Military’s Geographical Gap (with Adam Dean). International Interactions, forthcoming

Policing the Boundary and Bounding the Police: The Making of Gendarmeries in North America. Journal of Borderlands Studies, forthcoming

Right Wing Militias, Guns, and the Technics of State Power (with Elias Schultz).  Law, Culture, and the Humanities, forthcoming

Keeping Vigil: The Emergence of Vigilance Committees in Pre-Civil War America  (with Eleonora Mattiacci). Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 16, No. 3 (2018), pp. 600-616

The Co-Evolution of Public and Private Security in Nineteenth Century Chicago."  Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 43, No. 3 (2018), pp. 827-861

A Fragmented Force: The Evolution of Federal Law Enforcement in the U.S., 1870-1900. Journal of Policy History Vol. 29, No. 4 (2017), pp. 640-675

The Six-Shooter Marketplace: 19th Century Gunfighting as Violence Expertise. Studies in American Political Development Vol. 28, No. 1 (2014), pp. 49-79

Conflict Displacement and Dual Inclusion in the Construction of Germany (with John Padgett).  In The Emergence of Organizations and Markets, John F. Padgett and Walter Powell, eds. (Princeton University Press, 2013)