Taking Children: A History of American Terror

Regular price $ 24.95

by Laura Briggs

University of California Press

8/10/2021, paperback

SKU: 9780520385771


"You have to take the children away."--Donald Trump

Taking Children
argues that for four hundred years the United States has taken children for political ends. Black children, Native children, Latinx children, and the children of the poor have all been seized from their kin and caregivers. As Laura Briggs's sweeping narrative shows, the practice played out on the auction block, in the boarding schools designed to pacify the Native American population, in the foster care system used to put down the Black freedom movement, in the US's anti-Communist coups in Central America, and in the moral panic about "crack babies." In chilling detail we see how Central Americans were made into a population that could be stripped of their children and how every US administration beginning with Reagan has put children of immigrants and refugees in detention camps. Yet these tactics of terror have encountered opposition from every generation, and Briggs challenges us to stand and resist in this powerful corrective to American history.


"The timeliness of this short but provocative book is chilling. Taking Children could not be more relevant to our current political moment because it explores the dark but shockingly common practice of state terror over subjects who are so vulnerable that something as precious, personal, and intimate as their own children can be taken away from them. It is a well-researched book with heart, one that will inspire people in this generation to take a stand."--Jason Ruiz, author of Americans in the Treasure House: Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire

"Taking Children couldn't be more timely. With clear and razor-sharp analysis, Briggs's compelling book shows that the cruelty of Donald Trump's presidency has deep roots in US history, and that its most vicious effects have long been focused on families, on the taking of children of people of color and poor people. A damning tour du force."--Greg Grandin, author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

"Taking Children is a powerful corrective to an amnesiac politics that makes the brutality of the present seem novel and abnormal. Briggs traces the history of family separation through immigration politics, mass incarceration, and anti-Communist dirty wars--and back further still, to slavery and the genocidal campaigns against indigenous people. This is urgent reading that dispels the mistaken idea that Trump's barbarity is un-American.'"--Daniel Denvir, host of The Dig and author of All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It

About the Author:

Laura Briggs is Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump ; Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption; and Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico.