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Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer Paperback – November 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 2nd Revised edition (November 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786712287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786712281
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1984, Leyton's pioneering work on the psychology of mass murderers has been updated and revised for this second edition. Clearly written, thoroughly readable and deliberately free of sociological jargon, it is an important contribution to its field and to the public at large, for whom it clarifies a dark and nightmarish phenomenon of our time. Analyzing case histories from Bundy to Berkowitz, Leyton demystifies the mass murderer. He begins with a brilliant description of the foremost serial killer of fiction, Hannibal Lecter, and demonstrates how little he resembles his real-life counterparts. To begin with, there has not been an aristocratic serial killer in centuries; most, says Leyton, are from the working classes. Nor are they diabolical geniuses; rather, they tend to be surprisingly dull-witted. Leyton's contention is that serial killers are not insane, but a product of their environment. They have been with us for centuries, he argues, and tend to come and go cyclically. (Recent research claims that 15% of them are female.) According Leyton, the serial killer sees his act as a form of revenge upon a specific social class that has denied him the social acceptance that he craves. The elements of sadism and sexual pervasion are his means of punishing his supposed persecutors. A professor of anthropology at Memorial University in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Leyton has written a number of books on psychology, and this volume in particular is a most enlightening work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Clearly written, thoroughly readable and deliberately free of sociological jargon, [Hunting Humans] is an important contribution to its field and to the public at large.”
Publishers Weekly

“Leyton has become probably the world’s most widely consulted expert on serial killing — his books are required reading for homicide detectives.”
Sunday Telegraph

“Fascinating and thought-provoking.”
Psychology Today --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

This is a very different and engrossing take on the motivation behind serial killers.
Verbena Reverb
It's the fascinating, and wonderfuly written book - will keep you on the edge of your seat.
iewm@kgp.waw.pl
Leyton has the ability to present a unique perspective in a clear, cogent writing style.
Laura Anne Gray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on December 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Leyton is an anthropologist, and this study of serial killers focuses on sociocultural factors rather than individual pathology as a cause of multiple murder. Specifically, Leyton examines how class conflict has contributed to serial killings in different epochs. In the Middle Ages, royalty killed serfs; in the Industrial Age of the 19th century, the nouveau middle class killed prostitutes and other individuals from the lower rungs, and in the modern era serial killers target those who are just one rung up from them in the social ladder.

Leyton argues that modern multiple murderers are class-conscious and socially conservative men who are obsessed with status, class, and power. Emboldened by our cultural glorification of violence and serial killers, and trapped in alienating lives that do not match their class strivings, they kill the objects of their desire. And they keep killing until they feel that they have accomplished the mission that they set out on. It's a very interesting analysis, although I think Leyton selected case studies that fit his thesis and ignored others that did not. (He profiles Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, David Berkowitz, and four other cases, including the D.C. snipers in his new edition, but he ignores - for example - Jeffrey Dahmer, whose predilection for young Cambodian boys goes against his thesis.) Also, the fact that documented serial killers in the Middle Ages were royalty may be due to documentation issues; maybe serfs who killed serfs never made the history books (a possibility Leyton doesn't mention).

But these are minor limitations. The book is well researched and well written, and it is certainly refreshing to see a treatment of this topic that does not ignore the macro perspective of class, race, and culture.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MrPower on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first read Hunting Humans 15 or so years ago and I have recently bought the new edition. It is a fascinating insight into the minds and motivations of serial killers, although I think Leyton struggles somewhat to fit them all into his particular thesis. Ted Bundy was extremely bright and personable and started his killing spree after his girlfriend had accepted an offer of marriage which he promptly withdrew two days later. Almost without exception, his victims all resembled this woman. He was also a necrophiliac, returning to have sex with his victims even when they were in an advanced state of decomposition. Perhaps my favourite part of the book, and one I often quote when faced with 'expert opinion' , regards the 'gentle giant' Edmund Kemper. He had spent several years incarcerated as a teenager for brutally murdering his grandparents (yes, they let him out!), and he was in the psychiatrist's office getting his release papers. The good doctor wished him well and felt certain that the young Kemper would go on to have a productive and useful life. At that very moment Kemper's car was parked outside. In the boot were the two severed heads of his latest victims. Chilling, but absolutely gripping reading.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Whether you are an anthropologist, sociologist, or just plain interested in the serial killer phenomenon, this book is a fascinating analysis. Through examinations of specific cases (Ted Bundy, Charles Starkweather, Albert DeSalvo ("The Boston Strangler"), Leyton provides insight via anthropolgoical theory and psychological profiles. A must for any true crime lover!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By world class wreckin cru on February 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Leyton has written a classic study on the rise and motives of serial killers and mass murderers. The new edition of this book originally published in the early 80's includes a discussion of the DC sniper attacks and case studies of various killers including Ted Bundy, the Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo, David Berkowitz aka the Son of Sam, and Mark Essex. Leyton lays out a very convincing argument about the motives behind the killings of multiple murderers. He casts asides psychopathology as the primary reason for their crimes and instead contends that an inability to cope with social position and class consciousness drives these killers.
Leyton views multiple murderers from a sociological rather than a psychiatric standpoint. The evidence underlying his arguments is solid. His main conclusion is that multiple murderers seek to destroy members of a social class secure in its position in the social hierarchy that have excluded him (sometimes her) from their ranks. Bundy, DeSalvo, and the rest belonged to the lower or lower middle classes and despite being superficially accepted by the social hierarchy above them, they were acutely aware of their humble origins and hypersensitive to rejection. In fact, all of the murderers that Leyton discusses in detail spoke greatly at length about wanting to punish the people they felt had rejected them. Though it is hard to imagine that multiple murderers are not psychotic, it appears that not only are they sane for the most part, they have a conscious or subconscious agenda to destroy the people they feel will never accept them.
The case that best exemplifies Leyton's thesis, in my opinion, is the case of Mark Essex. Essex was killed on the roof of a hotel in early January of 1975 after a killing spree that left over 10 people dead.
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