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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit First Edition Edition

57 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0684803760
ISBN-10: 0684803763
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mindhunter enters the minds of some of the country's most notorious serial killers to tell the real-life story of the Investigative Support Unit (ISU) -- the FBI's special force that has assisted state and local police in cracking some of the country's most celebrated serial murder and rape cases. The unit specializes in understanding the chemistry and mechanical workings of the brain's of these serial criminals, and did its homework by interviewing such murderers as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam). John Douglas, who worked for the FBI for 25 years, is an authority on the unit, and his book combines the best of nonfiction with that of a murder mystery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

One of the first to develop the specialty of "criminal-personality profiling," Douglas has written a readable, popular version of his earlier Sexual Homicide (Lexington, 1988). He discusses how FBI profilers, working from crime scene evidence, predict the type of personality who committed a serial murder. Accurate profiles-such as that of Wayne Williams, the Atlanta child killer-can help focus on likely suspects. Profiling can also suggest proactive steps for luring the culprit into contacting the police. Unfortunately, a profile is apt to "fit a lot of people." As the unsolved Green River Killer case attests, it cannot substitute for hard evidence. Although profiling has limitations not emphasized in this semiautobiographical account, Douglas is justifiably proud of its success. Recommended for true crime collections.
--Gregor A. Preston, formerly with Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (October 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684803763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684803760
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Glen James on June 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Well, I must be honest. I loved the book. I like the field of criminal profiling and think it deserves the attention. However, Douglas' books aren't really objectice science. They aren't really even psychology. Keep in mind that Douglas is an ex FBI agent, not a forensic psychologist. He probably has a rudimentary understanding, at best, of psychological principles. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, just know that he will look a a crime scene and give a very different "profile" of the killer than a forensic psychologist. Actually, I don't think forensic psychologists even examine crime scenes, the interview suspects and victims to gather evidence. So don't take anything in this book as law. Just because Douglas has the "Crime Classification Manual" doesn't make it scientific. Treat this book, and his others, for what they are, more of a biographical memoir of his days assisting in the investigations of serial murder, rape, child murder etc. And yes, he does like to take a lot of credit, but he also makes it clear in several of his cases how well the police and local authorities did their job and how the killer was brought to justice with "good, old-fashioned police work". He may have a bit of an ego, but he also has a great deal of insight and experience (from a law-enforcement perspective). Although his experience doesn't necessarily shed new light on the actually motives and psychology of serial murders and the like. An interesting and terrifying read? Yes. Objective behavioral science? NO.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anne Haight on January 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
I learned about this book while searching for information on the methods used by law enforcement personnel to catch the most unusual and baffling of criminals -- people who mutilate their victims or conduct ritual behaviors surrounding the murders. This is exactly what Douglas talks about in this remarkable book. Douglas championed the cause of behaviorial profiling, convinced that psychology could be used to predict future behavior; an idea that was previously greatly doubted in the scientific community. If you watch "The X-Files" you will see this method often reflected in Agent Mulder's investigations of ritual murders and other bizarre crimes. Douglas is also clearly dedicated to the use of solid, real world facts to support his methods. He does not engage in pure speculation, but uses the factual evidence he acquires to make a theory. Over time, as he finds flaws in his theories, he meticulously adjusts his technique to make his predictions work. This book should be a staple in the collection of anyone who is interested in criminal psychology, investigative techniques, or FBI methodology.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Blevins on January 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was really great. I read it in about 3 hours. I read the reviews that said they did not like the personal stuff. Well, in my opinion thats what makes it interesting. He is showing us the life as an agent. His marriage broke up and he had a stroke from the stress. I have read all of his books and I loved them all. If you dont like that kind of stuff then you should read a text book. Because this adds life to a story. Its not just a run on of facts.
I do not believe this was a "pat on the back" for him, I believe he wrote this to give us insight to that kind of life.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Yarbrough on September 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the other reviews that have been posted previously. While the book is an interesting read based on John Douglas' accomplishments, it doesn't really give an "inside" look on serial killers and how to draw behavorial conclusions based on the evidence. I have no idea how he determined that killer was black or white - "it was just a gut feeling." He'll say things like "Based on the photos I looked at and the M.E. report, I determined that the killer drove a BMW with a Jack in the Box antenna ball and has a speech stutter ... " And that's it. What we the readers are missing are photo descriptions and details of the crime scene to comprehend how he came to the conclusions he did. (I recommend "The Evil Men Do" for a good illustration - you figure out what happened and then they tell you if you're right.) I'm interested in behavior science and would like to know how Douglas gained the unique insight he had. I'm onto his second book, "Journey into Darkness" and while it's slightly better, I've noticed that some of the cases are repeated in a more edited form. I realize he wants to illustrate a couple of points for those who may have missed his earlier book. Yes, it's a good book, but read it knowing that it'll focus on his life in the FBI, his failed marriage, and his health problems. Don't expect to gain profound understanding of how criminals work because there really isn't anything to look at - just his word that he was right in most of his assessments.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Becky on April 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The power of the mind is truly awesome, and that fact is superbly demonstrated in this book. Mr Douglas and his team are a group of people, who for many years, have used brains and not brawn to capture criminals by delving into the minds of the evil creatures masquerading as humans, while fighting a constant battle to maintain their own sanity. He also feeds us with enough vital information about his most memorable cases to keep us interested, yet thankfully spares us the gruesome details of torture, rape, and murder, which would surely induce nightmares. John graphically illustrates to us the frightening reality that there are many wolves in sheep's clothing in this world, and acknowledges the sad fact that although he and his team are blessed with extraordinary powers of ESP, that even the most persistent hunters can be outnumbered by the most deadly kind of quarry - human predators. I strongly advise all prison psychiatrists and psychologists to read this book, as I feel it would give them greater insight into the types of individuals that they would recommend re-releasing back into society.
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