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Whoever Fights Monsters: A Brillant FBI Detective's Career Long War Against Serial Killers Hardcover – May 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0312078836 ISBN-10: 0312078838 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312078838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312078836
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

This book is an overview of the career of the FBI man who nearly single-handedly created the system for personality profiling of violent offenders. If there's a big-time multiple murderer from about 1950 until now who hasn't been interviewed by Robert Ressler, he probably refused the honor. Indispensable reading for serial killer mavens, and better written than John Douglas and Mark Olshaker's Mindhunter, this book is packed with fascinating details from dozens of cases: The killer John Joubert, for example, started his life of cruelty as a kid one day when he was riding his bike with a sharpened pencil in his hand. He rode up next to a little girl who was walking, and stabbed her in the back with the pencil. Ouch! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Former FBI agent Ressler ( Sexual Homicide ) coined the term "serial killer" in the 1970s. Writing with Schachtman ( Skyscraper Dreams ), he recounts in straightforward, fact-filled style his interviews with such infamous murderers as Edmund Kemper, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, William Heirens and Ted Bundy. Onetime head of the FBI's Criminal Personality Research Project, Ressler corrects the misleading, romanticized criminal profiles found in the novels of Thomas Harris and Mary Higgins Clark; recalls how he compiled his ground-breaking, close-to-the-mark profiles of actual criminals who were later apprehended; and tells how he worked with mental-health professionals to explore killers' personality traits. Before Ressler, the FBI knew surprisingly little about dangerous criminals. His quest--catching and understanding criminals--absorbs and unsettles the reader, placing true crime in the real world. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This book shows the birth of the term 'serial killer' and behavioral profiling.
Claudia Pfeiffer
Moreover, this book is a must read for anyone interested in true crime stories, psychology of disturbed persons and serial killers.
Lloyd D. Scharneck
The fact is that people who do great things deserve the right to beat their chest once in a while.
Damion Pisacane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Tresca VINE VOICE on January 25, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you who are not big fans of serial killers and the people who catch them (or at least won't admit it publicly), Bob Ressler is the guy who invented the term "Serial Killer" and helped usher in a new understanding of repeat criminals and why they do what they do. The citizens of the U.S. owe a lot to Bob. So does Thomas Harris, who interviewed him extensively for Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs.

Alas, truth is stranger than fiction, and the tales Ressler tells are positively awful. There' just one problem: we've heard all of this before.

Where? That'd be "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit," by John E. Douglas, a man I can only assume was Ressler's protégé. It's a bit murky as to their relationship (the two reference each other, but not often). The parallels are unmistakable-it's interesting to read the opinions of two different people interviewing the same serial killer.

For example, Douglas has a bit of a creepy admiration for Ed Kemper. Kemper had a diabolical mind that he put to good use, such that eventually he figured out why he was killing women: because he hated his mother. So Kemper did what every good serial killer would do in such a situation...he killed her too. His murders "finished," Kemper called the police and gave himself up.

That little story is from Douglas' point of view. It almost makes Kemper out to be a sympathetic figure. A six-foot tall, 300 pound sympathetic figure, but sympathetic nonetheless.

Ressler is not so kind. Ressler interviews Kemper alone at one point. Having finished the interview, Ressler rings for the guard...but nobody comes.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on July 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert K. Ressler left the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit twelve years ago to venture into private practice as a criminologist. He retired with thirty years of investigative experience (ten with the U.S. Army's CID and twenty with the FBI, many of them as director of the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP)). This book is one of his many attempts to speak from the belly of the monster that has devoured fact the book that follows this one is actually called "I Have Lived in the Monster."

"Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice." (Jonah 2:2)

So what does our modern-day prophet, Robert K. Ressler cry out of the belly of the beast?

Credit for coining the phrase "serial killer" is commonly (and mistakenly) given to Ressler, one of the founding members of the FBI's elite Behavioral Science Unit. Along with his colleague John Douglas, Ressler also served as a model for the character 'Jack Crawford' in Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter trilogy.

"Whoever Fights Monsters" is subtitled "My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI" and if you read true crime books, you will recognize many of the monsters that Ressler describes and interviews. A miscellaneous look at the photo captions will give you an idea of whose minds he attempted to probe:

* "One of two blenders used by the Sacramento 'Vampire Killer'... to prepare human blood and organs for ingesting to 'stop his blood from turning to powder'"

* "Tattoos on the arm of Richard Speck, which led to his arrest in the murders of eight women in Chicago in 1966"

* "Photograph taken of the leg of a Brudos victim.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By James T. Marsh on January 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the only book that a student of serial killers will ever need-the others are only case studies.Ressler gives the basic tools and terminology used to classify serial murderers and real life examples of the categories given.This book is a nice mix of an overview of the subject and an explanation of the science used to catch the killers.I found myself analyzing other killers using the same method Ressler teaches.Sadly,it is now hard for me to read books about serial murderers as I usually have them categorized within a chapter or two.This book avoids the sensationalism inherent to the subject,and is by far the best one of its kind that I have found.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Gralian on August 5, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many people seem to be put-off by Ressler's "horn-tooting" in this book. Big deal! You're getting an insight into his psychology as well as those he hunts. Ego often accompanies greatness.

The read was fascinating. Ressler offers a dispassionate survey into the psychological make-up of serial killers and other disturbed individuals. Perhaps "dispassionate" is off the mark. He clearly has feelings and opinions, but offers them seperate from his analysis. Ressler doesn't like his subjects, nor approve of them, but he does understand them. His insights just make sense, as opposed to the odd ramblings of other authors on the subject.

Especially illuminating was his explanation of "Organized" and "Disorganized" killers. They have very different make-up and motivation. In addition, his side-by-side analysis of a couple dozen serial killers exposed patterns unavailable in a book solely about one killer, the majority of true crime books.

The resistance to the creation of a Behavioral Sciences Unit was unsurprising, given that the increased incidence of serial killers is a recent phenomena, growing since World War II.

I normally avoid True Crime books, but this one caught my eye, and kept my interest.
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