Paperback / softback
April 1, 2005
notes, bibliog., index
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.05 Pounds (US)
$30.00 USD
v2.1 Reference
July 16, 2015
notes, bibliog., index
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.33 Pounds (US)
$95.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Beaten Down

A History of Interpersonal Violence in the West

Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2003

The word “violence” conjures up images of terrorism, bombings, and lynchings. Beaten Down is concerned with more prosaic acts of physical force—a husband slapping his wife, a parent taking a birch branch to a child, a pair of drunken friends squaring off to establish who was the “better man.” David Peterson del Mar accounts for the social relations of power that lie behind this intimate form of violence, this “white noise” that has always been with us, humming quietly between more explosive acts of violence.

Broad in its chronological and cultural sweep, Beaten Down examines interpersonal violence in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia beginning with Native American cultures before colonization and continuing into the mid-twentieth century. It contrasts the disparate ways of practicing and punishing interpersonal violence on each side of the U.S.-Canadian border. Del Mar concludes that we cannot comprehend the causes and moral consequences of a violent act without considering larger social relations of power, whether between colonizers and original inhabitants, between spouses, between parents and children, or between and among different ethnic groups.

The author has drawn on a vast array of vivid sources, including newspaper accounts, autobiographies, novels, oral histories, historical and ethnographic publications, and hundreds of detailed court cases to account for not only the relative frequency of different forms of violence, but also the shifting definitions and perceptions of what constitutes violence. This is a thoughtful and probing account of how and why people have hit each other and the manner in which opinion makers and ordinary citizens have censured, defended, or celebrated such acts. Del Mar’s conclusions have important implications for an understanding of violence and perceptions of violence in contemporary society.

About the Author

David Peterson del Mar is adjunct assistant professor of history at Portland State University and Oregon State University. He is the author of What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence against Wives.


"The author examines violence in terms of one individual's seeking to assert superiority over another—a power struggle that reflects deep-seated cultural attitudes. This work concentrates on the Pacific Northwest and ranges from Native American cultures and the first European encounters to the early 20th century—considering violence between spouses, family members, and angered friends and across ethnic or class lines. . . . Overall, this is a fascinating examination of a heretofore largely overlooked topic."—Library Journal

"David Peterson del Mar's work on violence against wives is well known to social and legal historians, and in this important, innovative, and provocative new book, he has broadened his approach to examine interpersonal violence more generally."—BC Studies

"A critically important book..This volume highlights a topic that many scholars of the West insist is central to understanding the evolution of frontier communities, the interactions of clashing cultures, and the impact of region on the larger context of American life..It is to be hoped that David Peterson Del Mar's provocative ideas will inspire more historians to examine other national arenas and geographic places for the evidence that private violence shaped social, economic, and political control in a country that should have relied on equality and justice, as its documents from the American Revolution promised."—Journal of Social History


"Beaten Down is a very original and most important study in the history of North American violence and in the history of the international Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia). It seamlessly combines an intellectually strong conceptual approach with stories of individuals and families."—Richard Maxwell Brown, University of Oregon

"Beaten Down is an outstanding social history of how violence has affected the everyday lives of individuals. Del Mar examines, above all else, how interpersonal violence is connected to the larger cultural processes that unfolded in the Pacific Northwest over two centuries."—Keith Edgerton, Montana State University—Billings

9780295985053 : beaten-down-peterson-del-mar
Paperback / softback
$30.00 USD
9780295995762 : beaten-down-peterson-del-mar
312 Pages
$95.00 USD

Other Titles in HISTORY / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)

The Grizzly in the Driveway

Rob Chaney
Jan 2021 - University of Washington Press
$29.95 USD - Hardback

The Great Quake Debate

Susan Hough
Jul 2020 - University of Washington Press
$29.95 USD - Hardback

Alaska, second edition

Stephen W. Haycox
Apr 2020 - University of Washington Press
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$95.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in History of the Americas

Inside the US Navy of 1812–1815

William S. Dudley
Apr 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text

To Her Credit

Sara T. Damiano
Apr 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$55.95 USD - Hardback
$55.95 USD - Electronic book text

Engineering Rules

JoAnne Yates and Craig N. Murphy
Mar 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$64.95 USD - Hardback
$39.95 USD - Electronic book text
$39.95 USD - Paperback / softback