In Why They Kill, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes traces the life and career of criminologist Lonnie Athens, a man who took his own sad and squalid life and turned it on its head to make a groundbreaking career as a criminologist. Athens grew up in a violent, angry world. Rather than absorbing the sickness and violence around him, though, he studied it, and eventually developed a theory about how violent criminals are created. Rhodes's critical examination of Athens's work forces readers to consider how violent our society really is, how it became that way, and what might be done to change it. When applied to well-known criminals such as Michael Tyson and Lee Harvey Oswald, Athens's ideas become concrete and take on an urgent tone: it's easy to discuss theories and predictors in the abstract, but these stories are real, and they repeat themselves in our society at an alarming rate. Rhodes's approach to this disturbing subject stands apart from many other crime books in its intelligence, humanity, and empathy. These are not just descriptions of "scumbags" and their brutal crimes, but intensely personal stories that reveal how a culture of violence propagates itself. --Lisa Higgins --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
What transforms an ordinary person into a violent criminal? Not genetic inheritance or low self-esteem or coming from a violent subculture, answers Pulitzer PrizeAwinning author Rhodes (The Making of the Atomic Bomb, etc.), but rather a process of brutalization by parents or peers that usually occurs in childhood. In this provocative study, Rhodes focuses on the work of criminologist Lonnie Athens, who teaches at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Athens believes that violent crime results from "social retardation," a process whereby an individual who was abused in childhood guides his or her actions by recourse to a "phantom community" of the internalized voices of caregivers and others. Rhodes tests Athens's theory against specific cases, including those of boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson; Cheryl Crane, daughter of actress Lana Turner, who at age 14 stabbed to death her mother's lover; and Lee Harvey Oswald. The author champions Athens as a pioneering genius battling a criminological establishment that ascribes violent crime to psychopathology or antecedent social conditions; yet he overestimates the originality of Athens's work (the "phantom community" in some ways resembles Freud's superego), and his well-intentioned study is at times belabored. Both Rhodes and Athens suffered through horrifically abusive childhoods, which adds a compelling personal note to this study but may also color their views. Rhodes strongly endorses Athens's call for school-based prevention programs to break the cycle of domestic and societal violence. Agents, Morton Janklow and Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
LIKED THIS DIFFERENT APPROACH TO THE THEORY OF VIOLENCE. THE AUTHOR IS VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT HIS STUFF. MADE ME RETHINK MY VIEWS ON VIOLENCE AND WHAT CAUSES IT.Published 13 months ago by STEPHEN TWEMLOW
This book imho is a must read for every thinking adult. It is the best of the last 50 books I have read. I learned a lot that isn't available elsewhere. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Paul G. Joseph
I hoped to read of some ground breaking study and insightful information. The book talks about the well covered aspect of nurture and how a bad childhood and youth situation is the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Lov2read
I am a law enforcement officer who spends a fair amount of time associating with truly violent criminals. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Just a guy
I read this book a long time ago and then I gave it away. I decided to purchase it again, read it and then keep it in my little library.Published 22 months ago by Robert A. Berge
One of the most important books on violence I've read. Highly recommended for anyone working in this field. Rhodes is top notch!Published 23 months ago by T. Schneider
I am an admirer of Richard Rhodes but the book is too long and repettious. The two examples of personal violence are arbitrary and too wordy. Read morePublished on July 23, 2013 by arthur gale
God information and scholarly work. Ties in with other things I've been reading. In short a good book. Enough said.Published on June 8, 2013 by Eugene J. Brady
I read most of the book in a single afternoon. I teach in the field, not only of sociology and criminology in general, but on the social context of violence specifically. Read morePublished on February 17, 2012 by N. Dubeski