64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Douglas has trod this ground before, but never so well as this book. It's my favorite of his writings. Some critics claim that Douglas is unbearably arrogant about his work, but with his track record, who can blame him? Criminal profiling has got to be one of the most fascinating subjects; a science combining intuition, detective work, and common sense.
Douglas gives overviews of different types of killers: serial, mass, spree, and tells how they differ from each other. Those profiled include Andrew Cunanan and the Tylenol poisoner. Douglas also profiles two of the most intriguing killers, in my opinion, John List and Charles Whitman. Two more different people could not exist, and yet they both resorted (chose, in Douglas' opinion) to murder. Douglas main refrain is that these people, through a combination of physiological and psychological factors, environmental conditions, and situation stressors, choose to take the course they do. That is, lots of people may have a brutal upbringing and negative life situations, but do not kill people. So, it is a choice, and not a compulsion they cannot avoid (as Douglas puts it, none of these killers would murder while a uniformed policeman stood nearby).
At the end of the book, Douglas gives us four scenarios and gives us an opportunity to figure out whodunit. If you've been reading carefully, he says, you should be able to tell. I got three out of the four, so I guess I'm headed for the FBI academy!
If you like Douglas' work and writing, you will enjoy this book.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2001
This is the third book I've read of John Douglas. Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness are the other two. If you're anything like me, you are absolutely repulsed by the crimes these creatures commit...but you're curious about it, too. I mean, HOW can any human being do things that Mr. Douglas describes in his books to another human being. As much as I am repulsed by this behavior, I am strangely fascinated by it. What makes them tick?
John Douglas helps answer this question. Straight-forward description of events, explanations behind the crimes. He describes what happens underneath the surface of these crimes and how this will help point to motive. And ultimately, that's what's important: WHY? Because when you find out HOW, you can figure out WHY, and this will help lead to WHO, as John Douglas explains in his book.
This book will interest anyone that reads suspense, thriller, or horror genres. Authors like Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver, Thomas Harris, Patricia Cornwell, and the likes: If you read any of these authors, read John Douglas's books, especially The Anatomy of Motive. What it may lack in suspense (he writes these books not so much to keep you guessing "what next," or anything like that), it more than makes up for in the fact that EVERYTHING HE TELLS YOU, ACTUALLY HAPPENED!
And not that the "lack of suspense" makes this book boring. This couldn't be further from the truth. Case in point: John Douglas will not just describe a crime and an investigation into the Whodunnit, he's going to take you inside the mind of serial killers, mass killers, spree killers, assassins, arsonists, poisoners, kidnappings, and more. That's what's so terrifying: You're inside the mind of a killer, and for once you're not asking "How can a freak like this do such a thing to another human?" because it suddenly makes sense. SPOOKY!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Some people believe that John Douglas comes off as a bit arrogant in his writing, and I could not agree more. However, once the reader is able to get past the author's arrogance, the author compiles a very interesting read.
Douglas takes into account all of the types of killers including arsonists, assasins, poisoners, bombers, serial, killers, mass murders, and spree killers. He goes into detail to explain who is likely to commit the specific crime and what makes them snap to go on their murderous rampage. Once the author gets into a specific story it is hard to put this book down.
The final chapter allows the reader to try some profiling of his/her own on some specific case. For this reason, the last chapter is called "you make the call."
Overall, I enjoyed this book and would suggest it to all true crime fans. Just for the record, I do intend to read some of Douglas's other books in the future, based on my enjoyment of this book and the other book I have read and reviewed by him.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2000
Douglas doesn't claim that anyone is born bad. He's delved into what turns human beings into monsters, often an abusive upbringing, and in fact has often stated that programs like Head Start are the best way to prevent serial killers and rapists, and crime in general. He merely states that by the time he or other law enforcement officers get involved it is far too late to fix anything. Someone like John Wayne Gacy could have been helped while he was a child, but by the time the FBI is involved he's already learned that he enjoys killing. Douglas' job isn't to try and undo decades of mental developement, it is to render a very sick person incapable of doing further harm.
As for calling these men cowards, I don't know what else to call a man who preys on the weak to bolster his self esteem.
Douglas and Olshaker make a great writing team. Anyone who has in interest in investigation, psychology, or criminal justice should read all of their collaborative efforts.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I actually enjoyed this book more than his first, The Mindhunters. Douglas is an excellent writer, and even though some have complained about his discussion of these men as cowards, I think it is only fair to say that most people having been in his position and have his job would also have strong emotional opinions about what he saw of these very disturbed people. As a neuroscientist who understands that brain patterns may be different, and knowing people who were raised in less than ideal situations, I am afraid that I agree with him about the statement he made concerning 'choices'. Many people have had difficult lives but CHOOSE not to take it out on other people.
It is like someone who has familial alcoholism in their families. If they know that the family has addictive tendencies toward alcoholism, then they make the choice to never take that first drink. If they choose to drink, then more choices are taken away from them, like being able to drive without endangering the lives of others. Yes, there is a point where families should be on the lookout for certain behaviors from children, and then get the psychiatric help they need...but there is no excuse for most of these men who choose to hurt animals and then later people.
I thought Mr. Douglas' statements about choice and about violence in the schools, are something that educators need to hear. By the time that these men have reached the point where they are killing through whatever means, the time for compassion is over. They offered no compassion, and mostly no thought to their victims except for how it would make them feel. They deserve no compassion from the rest of society. My compassion is saved for the victims and people like the brother of the Unabomber who turned his brother in. He is deserving of our compassion, not his embittered brother who made the choices along the pathway of his life that led him to do what he did. He didn't even have the excuse of bad parenting.
As an educator and a parent, I am tired of excuses being made for these people by psychiatry. Even if there is physical proof of illness, there are still choices involved. To take medication, and stay under control, or go off the medication and hurt others. Douglas merely echoes how many of us feel and think concerning these cases, and does it in an organized manner. I understand more about motive now and how the brains of these men deviate from the norm. Karen Sadler, Science Education,
University of Pittsburgh
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2000
John Douglas has provided the insight to the criminal mind like none other has ever done. As a Law Enfocement officer I can say his experience as detailed in this book has made it exciting and fun to read. Those of you who are looking for the inner eye of a serial killers mind this is the book for you.
Two thumbs way up.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2000
I have read all the Douglas/Olshaker books to date and as a student in forensic science I agree with all the non-compasionate feelings these Professionals have towards the killers of innocent people. They are not taunting ill will towards these men ( or women if the case would be ) simply becuase they are in the aftermath of a brutal crime and have personal feelings about the situation or killer himslef. I am sure to some extent they do but not as uncompassionate as you may think. Im sure they have seen these disturbing sceenes most of there careers. However when you have seen as much as these two authors have you will soon come to realize that these are crimes of passion or sexually driven crimes . They are not "at the moment" impulse crimes and are a life long problem for these killers becuase it is a natural "feeling" for them to kill and brutalize . Alot of these criminals dont really care about what they are doing becuase it is a natural need for them to do it . Same with lifeterm child molesters . this is their attraction and they fully admit they will not stop. So I have to agree with the authors that most cannot be rehabilitated . If they can be though and I am wrong how many people will we release into society and how many more people will die trying to find out? I am sure society will never know so long as we all keep fighting for victims and their families who live terrorized every single day without closure . I cant imagine telling the parent of a raped , beaten, terrorized , and murdered child that the person who did this to not only your child but many others can be rehablilitated and may someday face freedom in society . Thats truelly terrifying. I hope that more people (especially women) take the time to read these two authors more becuase it could save your life. If anything ( although brutal reading ) it will open your eyes and educate and help us all fight this and stop being the sheep preyed upon.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2004
I read this book back to back during the past few days and it was the first book by Douglas that I have read.
While fairly impressed by the author's unique way of approaching (both in theory and in practice) some of the most notorious crimes and criminals, I felt there were several things that need to be pointed out.
(1) Self-oriented. I would not terribly disagree if one said in this book, Mr. Douglas was too much ego-driven and self-glorifying. It seemed for all the cases covered, on the other end of the justice scale opposite to the criminals, there was only Mr. Douglas whose penetrating force in bringing them to justice, at least His theories of profiling were.
(2) Insufficient case files. Virtually all the cases covered in this book are outdated and hugely well known that publicized information of them means nothing much than a news report. To my recollection, the average age of these cases was somewhere between 15 to 20 years. In today's fast driven society with progressive crime diversifications, this is hardly enough for a starter's course.
(3) Basic. While retaining my tremendous respect to the author and his book, I felt the materials presented here were over simplified and sometimes far more insufficient than they should be. I acknowledge the argument that nothing sophisticated could be well expressed in just over 400 pages, but I did feel the limitation and insufficiency of the author as an interdisciplinary scholar a great number of times during the book.
(4) One View Street. Simply stated, the author did not elaborate any alternatives to his "profiling' in catching some of the most sophisticated criminals, despite the importance of these alternatives in both the theory and the field. I was somewhat even offended when Mr. Douglas devoted only one and a half pages to the JFK Assassination, determining, based on the "physical and forensic" evidence, that President Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald and Oswald alone. He declared him to be just another "paranoid loser" who happened to be able to murder the president, how convenient! Interestingly, the historical and political aspects, which were in fact the very foundation of this heinous crime, did not even come into subject! Despite of the fact that Mr. Douglas was still a very young man and certainly an outsider of the FBI at the time, he implied to blame, more or less scornfully, a paranoid public in believing a "conspiracy theory", to which the government bureaucracy could and would, in no way to hold up. In a landmark effort, the History Channel presented its most mesmerizing program to date, "The Men who Killed Kennedy" (DVDs available at Amazon). Virtually all aspects of that programs, in a six-hour stride, contradict Mr. Douglas' one and a half pages' view on the event of the twentieth century America.
(5) Compromising - in detail. During the late chapters, when John Hinckley Jr. came into the subject, one inevitable spotlight was focused on Jodie Foster. While her early highly irresponsible and totally ignorant remarks of "encouragement" to Hinckley that without any doubt, partially prompted his attempt on the life of President Reagan, Mr. Douglas asserted her behavior to be ONLY "courteous". The reason, in a separate paragraph that ended the discussion, Mr. Douglas told that he was pleased by the advice he offered to the actress during the filming of the Silence of the Lambs, inconceivable, but true. Of course, one without a legendary record in crime fighting would have known, that Foster's attitude toward Hinckley was anything other than "courteous" in a legal sense!
Overall, I would believe without the above drawbacks, the book could have been a better effort. However, I recommend this book to those interested in the subject and/or law enforcement officers, as a good starter on a never-ending journey into crime fighting.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 1999
The book expressed John Douglas' perspective on criminal motive in a most enlightening way. This book rivals his Mindhunter, Journey Into Darkness, And Obsession. I am very pleased with John's continued expert insight into this most intriguing subject. His ideas seem very logical looking back, if only he would write more often.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 1999
And i must say i found it to be a VERY interesting book. It drew you in by discussing cases that are familiar to anyone who follows big news including a detailed segment on Andrew Cunanan, the serial killer. I liked how Douglas focused not so much on the sensationalism in Gianni Versace's murder but discussed every one of Cunanan's victims. I found the case of the Tylenol tampering to be extremely facinating as well. I must agree however, with the reader that commented on Douglas' "horn-blowing" and inflated ego. I also picked up on that attitude periodically throughout the book. But it wasn't so prevalent that it would make me rule out other books written by him. The man knows what he is talking about.