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When Father and Son Conspire, A Study of a Minnesota Farm Murder

By Joseph Amato

Murder"This is a multilayered account of a murder. It deals with the story we were told a few years ago, about the murder of two bankers by indebted farmers, father and son. This story is about the farm crisis, undeniably tragic in itself. With a bit more probing, the story also involves the agricultural poor, who kept a dream of farming but existed in a special, marginal layer within rural Minnesota society, from school days onward.

Above all, however, this is a story of family collapse and of a deviant male culture built on militarism and intense, distorted emotions. Professor Amato paints in a way a classic tragedy. He also deals with a number of recognizable features of American male culture in out time--issues of emotional expression and targeting, of the consequences of family disruption, and of the frequent absence of clear standards in father-son relations. Yet this is, as well, a case of deviance, in which common problems and values are refracted through a grotesque mirror. The story in this final sense is a unique one, even as it waves together strands form a wider psychological tapestry. At all its levels, this is a powerful and gripping contribution to contemporary history, based on prodigious research and even great insight."

-Peter N. Stearns
Carnegie-Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"This is a gripping study, not of rural poverty or social change, though they form part of the backdrop, but essentially of abnormal psychology and how it led to a tragic crime. Professor Amato deserves great credit for setting the record straight."

-Richard Critchfield
author of Villages

Crossings Press

Price: $12.00

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