Criminology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, £7.99)
Having previously written what could only be described as a very long introduction to Criminology, I thought it might be fun to try something more concise. My kids, when they were teenagers, had read a few of OUP’s Very Short Introduction series, and I’d always admired these pocket-sized accounts of everything from Algebra to Zionism. There are over 500 in the series now. Anyway, having signed a contract about seven years ago, and then studiously ignored it for six, it was either get on with it or admit it was never going to happen. So, last summer, in the gaps between other things, I settled down to write it. How difficult could something this short be? In truth, more so than I’d imagined. Predictably enough, the real issue was that the more I wrote the more it became clear just what I wasn’t saying or, frankly, able to say. I became very aware of just how conceited it was to imagine one could write something vaguely plausible about a matter as broad and ill-defined as criminology in so few words. My fear was that all anyone would see were the gaps. Consequently, I owe much to colleagues and friends who were kind enough to read a draft and to reassure me that they at least recognised the thing I was writing about. In the end all the book attempts is to offer the reader unfamiliar with the subject a sense of what we think the answers are to some of criminology’s core concerns. What is crime? Who commits crime? What are the main trends and how might we explain them? And, what do we try to do about crime, and to what effect? So, as you can see, plenty of stuff it doesn’t cover!
Tim Newburn, Professor of Criminology and Social Policy, Department of Social Policy, LSE