Taking another person's life is the crime for which every society reserves the strongest of punishments. But why (and when) is the act of killing sometimes defined as murder - as inexcusable - and sometimes considered a justifiable, or even righteous, act? Grappling with this ambiguity, Tony Waters sheds light on the sociology of murder. This innovative text draws on wide-ranging case studies of killing - from urban gangs in Washington D.C. to the Salem witchcraft trials, from the Wild West to blood feuds in modern Albania, from dueling gentlemen to government-orchestrated mass executions - to illustrate the process of criminalization. Along the way, it looks at both the micro-sociological level of the violent act itself and the macro-level of society's reaction. When Killing Is a Crime will leave students with a clear understanding of how differences in culture, status, power, technology, and legal systems pattern violence and murder.