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The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime Paperback – February 11, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307475611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307475619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Once reviled because of its ties to eugenics, the idea that criminal impulses are rooted in biology has been reinvigorated by the Human Genome Project. Criminologist Raine applauds a growing cross-disciplinary approach and the growth of neurocriminology that looks at the biological and social factors behind criminal behavior, but his focus is firmly on the biological. Raine explores famous criminal cases, from Ted Bundy to the Unabomber to more obscure figures, and offers compelling research, including brain scans of psychopaths, schizophrenics, and others, to demonstrate the hard science behind some criminal and antisocial behavior from domestic violence to murder. Raine also analyzes research on adoption and twins to study the different impacts of nature versus nurture, as well as environmental factors that affect brain development, including nutrition, smoking, and drug abuse. Finally, Raine explores the practical implications of neurocriminology on the legal system, public health issues, and the future treatment of criminal and antisocial behavior. Although the topic will certainly continue to provoke controversy, Raine offers a highly accessible look at the latest research on the biology behind criminal behavior. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for Adrian Raine's The Anatomy of Violence

“Provocative. . . . [Raine] makes a good case that certain genetic, neurological, and physiological factors do predict violent behavior. . . . He argues, convincingly, that . . . benign and relatively cheap interventions could have huge social benefits.”
New York Times Book Review

“Well-written and engaging. . . . Mr. Raine reminds us of all the interesting things we do know about genes, brains and the environment that can tilt someone toward anti-social behavior. . . . A good read. What makes it something more is Mr. Raine's contention that violence is a public-health issue and that this forces upon society some uncomfortable ideas about possible interventions.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Lively, engaging. . . . A convincing case that violent criminals are biologically different from the rest of us. . . . [Raine] has the research at his fingertips—not surprising, since he carried out much of it—and makes a compelling case that society needs to grapple with the biological underpinnings of violent crime just as vigorously as the social causes, if not more so.”
New Scientist

“Anyone who truly seeks an answer to questions about nature vs. nurture should read Raine’s book. The Anatomy of Violence includes many interesting studies, with provocative findings. He also raises important philosophical questions about what we could, and perhaps should, do with what we’re learning.”
Psychology Today

“Readable, and at times controversial. . . . [The Anatomy of Violence] is worth reading by anyone who has an interest in violence and criminal behavior, not because it provides definitive answers, but for its value in setting the stage for ongoing thought and discussion.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“Are ‘criminal tendencies’ hard-wired or acquired? . . . Psychologist Adrian Raine argues the biological case, marshalling swathes of findings and case studies of murderers and rapists. . . . Provocative and bristling with data.”

“Groundbreaking. . . . Never before has a ‘map of the criminal mind’ been written about so convincingly. . . . Raine offers us the most compelling look to date at the connection between human genetics and human acts of violence. . . . The Anatomy of Violence will convince even the most skeptical that there is a genetic or biological cause for the violence exhibited by psychopaths across all cultures. . . . The Anatomy of Violence is an astonishingly accessible account of all the major elements—environmental, social, biochemical, psychological, and neurological—related to crime and human violence, leading us to the conclusion that yes, some people are natural born killers.”
New York Journal of Books

“An extremely informative, thoughtful and illuminating book . . . a tour de force.”
—David P Farrington, Psychological Medicine

“Fascinating. . . . The message that ought to be taken from this book is that criminality should be seen as a public health problem. Excellent child nutrition, strict controls on the use of heavy metals, classes in parenting and extra learning support for children and parents from difficult backgrounds. . . . Raine’s book represents a compelling argument that they are not optional extras, boom-time luxuries, but measures that have the potential to save countless billions, and countless lives.”
The New Statesman

“A passionately argued, well-written, and fascinating take on the biology of violence and its legal and ethical implications.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Compelling research. . . . Although the topic will certainly continue to provoke controversy, Raine offers a highly accessible look at the latest research on the biology behind criminal behavior.”

“An exhaustive, unvarnished survey of what is known about the neurobiological correlates of physical violence. It is deeply informative and it makes for disquieting reading. It wisely refrains from claiming a single cause for the problem or advocating a single solution. It is an indispensable reference.”
—Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes’ Error and Self Comes to Mind

"Important. . . . A thorough yet sparkling, erudite but beautifully written account. . . . Raine discusses complex scientific and ethical issues and illustrates them by drawing on a series of famous, sometimes unsettling case studies, thereby making scientific knowledge more accessible to a wide audience. What emerges is a rich picture of the complexities of human violence. The book is gripping from start to finish."
—Stephanie van Goozen, Professor of Psychology, Cardiff University

“[The Anatomy of Violence] is not only for students of this topic, but for any inquiring mind. It is just simply captivating, both emotionally and intellectually.”
—Diana Fishbein, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Scientist, Transdisciplinary Science and Translational Prevention Program, RTI International

“Indispensable. . . . A highly readable, often gripping account of how our biology affects our violence. The book’s great success is that it makes how we learned about crime and the brain as exciting as what we have learned. If we take this book seriously, criminology can move much closer to solving some of the biggest mysteries we face.”
—Lawrence W. Sherman, Wolfson Professor of Criminology, Director, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
“At once highly educational and surprisingly entertaining. . . . An easy, highly enjoyable, and richly rewarding read. The significant social, biological, and legal aspects of violent behavior make it a virtual minefield of sensitive and controversial issues.”
—Joe P. Newman, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
“A great read. . . . This is a book that will make you reflect on how you personally and society more generally views and responds to antisocial behavior. Is it time to think of violence as a disease, where rehabilitation takes precedence over punishment, and where prevention may be the only real cure? Read the book, and then you be the judge.”
—Mark S. Frankel, Ph.D., Director, Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
“Courageous, brilliant, and provocative. . . . Based on the latest scientific evidence Raine poses the fundamental question, Where does society draw the line between the effects of nature and nurture on brain function?”
—Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D., University Professor and Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences, Neurology, and Psychology, University of Southern California

“With The Anatomy of Violence, Raine brings the full force of his pioneering research, clear-eyed analysis, and sound policy prescriptions to our violence problem in America. Get ready for a tour de force in science, and one hell of a gripping read!”
—Brandon C. Welsh, professor of criminology, Northeastern University, author of Saving Children from a Life of Crime
"Anytime I need to know anything about the biology of crime, I go straight away to Adrian Raine. . . . Indispensable reading for students, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers."
—Terrie Moffitt, professor, Duke University and King's College London

Customer Reviews

Great book that was a very easy read.
Marcy A. Witkin-lupo
Adrian Raine offers us a unique understanding of violence that could very well change our criminal justice system.
Darcia Helle
The author is relatable, although he does insert himself into the research a bit too much for my liking.
G. Kellner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Burgundy Damsel VINE VOICE on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was concerned when I picked this up that it would be just another apologetic about how criminals aren't really responsible for their own behavior, but it has turned out to be the best book I've read in ages!

Raine is an adept writer, enthusiastic about his subject and impressively balanced in his approach. The book is exceptionally well organized with a logical, easy-to-read flow of ideas and concepts. The case studies are fascinating, and the scientific results rendered in way that both maintains their intellectual integrity and makes them accessible to the lay reader.

The author is upfront about the interconnected impacts of nature and nurture, clearly demonstrating what effects are strictly biological, which ones are socially driven, and how differing combinations of nature & nurture can produce radically different results. The section on the impacts on fetal/infant brain development reminded me of The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children in that it shows you the biological impacts of social choices, which was fascinating and extremely well done.

I think this book should be required reading for parents, teachers, and the law enforcement/justice systems en masse - while Raine never claims to have all the answers, his insights are invaluable and will change the way you look at violence and crime. This was a pleasure to read, and I will look for more by this author in the future.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jay VINE VOICE on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most research into crime takes a sociological approach. Raine brings out the latest research into biological models and puts forward several controversial theories that put the biological (largely genetic based) models over the sociological models. He often reigns himself back in, mentioning that his models ARE theoretical, but his writing becomes evangelical on several occasions. Careful reading is necessary to pick these passages out and not get carried away in the author's enthusiasm.

After 28 years working in law enforcement, I believe that Raine's work is groundbreaking and necessary, but over time - the reality of the models will edge back to the center - namely that nature and nurture both play a part in criminality.

I believe this book would be good for folks in law enforcement, criminology, neuropsychology, and lay persons who want to be able to have a grasp on the current issues. After reading this book, I would recommend you visit 'The Science of Evil' by Simon Baron-Cohen for an alternate take on the issue.

All the best,

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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S.E. Poza on April 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am very interested in brain chemistry as it relates to all human behavior and was looking forward to this book as a resource for providing insight and detailed information on how the brains of those who commit acts of violence or crime differ from those who do not. This book definitely delivers in terms of providing data and solid scientific information about the many ways in which brain chemistry differs and how things like head injury can change personality. If you are well-versed in the basics of neurobiology (something you'd have with either an undergraduate degree in a social sciences field or through watching enough documentaries to give you some basic knowledge), you will follow the science easily.

The part that I didn't expect, and was pleasantly surprised by, was how incredibly readable this book is. Though it incorporates a lot of theory and hard science, it reads with energy and a high level of anecdotal detail that makes it hard to put down. It is anything but dry and boring (as these books can sometimes be). Despite a background in accounting and neurobiology, Adrian Raine knows how to weave stories into his content and structure his prose such that you feel like you're part of a forensic story-telling anthology. He uses case studies, personal experience, and science to the best possible purpose. This is, by far, one of the more accessible and interesting "textbook" type books I've ever experienced.

The only down side to the book, and this is common in all books that deal with science, is that there is a clear bias present in certain parts of the book. It is clear that Dr.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Sanchez VINE VOICE on April 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Anatomy of Violence presents the latest innovation in the field of psychology and human behavior, that is the use of neuroscience. As I tell my students, when I was an undergraduate I heard some professors remark on how it would be of interest to know the workings of the brain so as to better understand behavior. However, at the time these were only suppositions since science had not developed the actual machinery to view more closely the brain and the neurological system. In the last 30 some years, though, we now have techniques such as the MRI and fMRI and various neurotransmitter studies to allow for improved understanding of the connection between our biology and behavior. The science of neuropsychology seems destined to revolutionize the field of psychology/psychiatry and it is a welcomed progress.

The author, Adrian Raine, is a well published professor at Penn University in criminology and psychology. His latest book, while helpful to the professional, is designed to present to the layperson the latest findings in the biology of crime. Most chapters begin with a true story of murderers, or rapists, etc., but whose behavior is often bizarre enough to both disgust and make one curious as to what was causing their criminal behavior. He proceeds in each chapter to dissect the criminal's behavior and place it in context of his biological process and the resulting crime.

Raine is at his writing best and most informative when he stays to the clinical task of helping the reader understand the neurological system. His explanations are clear and he treats his readers with respect on a difficult subject for many of us.

Raine, unfortunately is not content on holding to neuroscience.
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