cover image In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family

In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family

Fox Butterfield. Knopf, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4102-2

Butterfield (All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence), a Pulitzer Prize winner, uses one family, the Bogles, to explore American criminality. Butterfield identified 60 Bogles, starting in the 1920s, “who have been sentenced to either prison, jail, or a juvenile reformatory, or placed on probation or parole.” His numerous interviews over a decade with members of the family put an all-too-human face on criminological studies that conclude that “as little as 5 percent of families account for half of all crime, and that 10 percent of families account for two-thirds of all crime” in the U.S. The influences of genetics and family have not been central for most recent criminologists, and Butterfield seeks to reintroduce them, purposely choosing a Caucasian family to “remov[e] race as a factor in the discussion.” Without sugarcoating or excusing their crimes, Butterfield writes empathically about his subjects, as in his depiction of Tracey Bogle, convicted of kidnapping, sodomy, and assault, who fondly recalls growing up copying the behavior of his father, Rooster, who “took his children out to commit crimes with him.” Butterfield convincingly argues that mass incarceration becomes a vicious cycle in this insightful and moving group biography. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Oct.)