Chris Murphy is able to identify precisely the date his life changed forever. It was December 14, 2012, the day 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults were slaughtered by gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a town in the congressional district he served, and was soon to represent as Connecticut's junior senator.
The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy is the passionate and often deeply moving story of Murphy's personal transformation. It is a well-informed, thoughtful exploration of the causes and potential solutions for the United States' epidemic of gun violence--one that claims some 90 lives every day--even as it addresses that vexing problem in a broader context.
Buttressed by material from the sources catalogued in his book's 30 pages of notes, Murphy engages in a wide-ranging survey of the roots of American violence. He also devotes ample attention to the political battles that have consumed him since 2012. Murphy has become a tireless advocate for the two principal measures--universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons--he believes will have a positive effect in curbing the traffic in illegal firearms and at least limiting the ability of killers like the one at Sandy Hook to summon massive lethal power in seconds. However, he is without illusions about the effort that will be required to enact even these modest reforms. Whether one is already engaged in that fight or seeking information and inspiration to do so, The Violence Inside Us is essential reading. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer