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The question of why people hurt others is perhaps humanity's oldest and most urgent, long the subject of literature and religion. Can social science provide any answers? Social psychologist Baumeister assembles the available research, such as experiments on how people justify small transgressions and react to hypothetical situations, as well as close readings of accounts by murderers, rapists and torturers. He concludes that "pure evil"--brutality inflicted on innocent victims for sadistic pleasure--is largely a myth. Most violence springs from the same sources as other human behavior: ambition, lust, fear, pride, idealism. It breaks out when self-control breaks down, often because of group pressures or a slow escalation from seemingly innocuous decisions. Most perpetrators do not enjoy their acts, at least at first, but feel they must be done. "To understand evil,"Baumeister writes, "we must set aside the comfortable belief that we would never do anything wrong. Instead, we must begin to ask ourselves, what would it take for me to do such things?" Although few of these ideas are original to Baumeister, and the book is sometimes pedantic, it is a worthy synthesis both for victims who want to know why and for policymakers who need to know what to do. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A revealing and unflinching look at a subject usually ignored." -- Booklist
"An impressive book." -- New Scientist
"Blending material from history, literature, philosophy, and anthropology, Baumeister has skillfully presented a picture of the nature of the evil that people do, a picture often at odds with popular and mythological ones." -- Russell G. Geen, Curators Professor of Psychology University of Missouri
"I once met a man who commanded a squad that executed some 10,000 men, women, and children with axes and hoes. Today that man is a humble farmer. I have often wondered what he dreams. Baumeister helps us to see into the dreams of such perpetrators and, indeed, into our own darkest dreams." -- Craig Etcheson, Ph.D. Manager, Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University
"This is the most important work I have read on the nature of evil." -- Brad J. Bushman, Iowa State University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
interesting material, I would recommend this book to everyone. however It is a little violent and I would keep it out of the hands of sensitive audiences.Published 23 months ago by billycat
This book is deep. I'm really enjoying reading it. He covers a lot more subject matter then I thought would be covered. Read morePublished on August 8, 2013 by Cassy
I bought this book in 1997, and it was lying around in my bookcase for years. I decided to look at it, in view of changes of what we know now. Read morePublished on June 24, 2013 by Sanford Aranoff
I highly recommend this book to any fan of psychology. He opens your mind to a completely different side of evil and crimes.
Baumeister's style is dry but very lucid. His study is exhaustive and informative and really eye-opening. Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by Ms. Critique
In order to understand any phenomenom, one must take the view of a neutral, unbiased observer. Prof. Baumeister does this, when he analyses, why people commit evil acts. Read morePublished on May 1, 2010 by PST
I was expecting a wider scope from this book, that would have included the spiritual dimensions of evil , whic surely exist. Read morePublished on February 5, 2010 by Oscar Cury
"Was she evil?"
A friend posed that question to me a few years ago in seeking my opinion of an old lover convicted of trying to murder me in 1980 and implicated in at... Read more