Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Father's Story Paperback – June 1, 1995
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Coming to terms with the horrors of his son's killings, the father of mass-murderer Jeffrey Dahmer reveals the dark and twisted life that preceded his son's slaughter of several victims.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Although he knew his son Jeffrey was disturbed, the author, like most parents, hoped he was "just a blink away from redemption." Thus, he was as horrified as others when Jeffrey's gruesome serial murders of young men came to light. (See Anne E. Schwartz's The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough , LJ 4/15/92). In this brief, honest book, Dahmer, a research chemist, searches for answers to the question of how his son became a monster. In retrospect, there are some clues--Dahmer even speculates that he is "a man whose son was perhaps only the deeper, darker shadow of himself." While no one, not even his father, can ever really know what produces a Jeffrey Dahmer, this is brave, heart-wrenching testimony. The author's unique point of view reminds us that the lives a murderer ruins include those who loved him most. Recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/93.
- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The result is an anguished examination of the private festering that might have given rise to Jeffrey Dahmer's crimes. In the process of looking for early signs, early inklings, Lionel Dahmer traces many of the tendrils of the mad imaginings that he eventually found had ruled his son's life - back to himself. He says that in some ways, he believes his own obsessions might have been the shadowy precursors of his son's full-blown madness. Lionel Dahmer recounts how he was obsessed with fire, with bombs, with exercising mesmerizing control over others when he was a child.
He also discusses the medical conditions his wife suffered from around the time of her difficult pregnancy with Jeffrey. While he does consider that some twisted genetic inheritance might have dictated Jeffrey's behavior, he is still left with a benumbing sense of blame and shame.
There is a generally spare, somber, weighted tone to the writing in this book, although there are some very literate, almost poetic passages, as for example when Lionel admits that he buried himself so much in his work in the chemical analysis laboratory, that he saw Jeffrey only "in glimpses... felt him in snatches." Lionel describes how he played the role of dutiful father and husband, but didn't vitally experience either the joys or loves or sorrows that most people seem to get out of these relationships.
I had criticized a low-budget independent movie that was made based on this book, because the actors in it seemed so emotionless. The actor who played the father especially gave the appearance of sleepwalking through his performance. But this book suggests that that's how life was really lived for much of the time in this household. The father took the son fishing - played soccer with him. There were all the seeming normalcies - from Halloween parties - to a college enrolment. But if Lionel's self-criticisms are accurate, in truth all these Norman Rockwell tableaus took place as the aftermath of "The Invasion of the BodySnatchers." Everyone was actually a walking simulacrum, an emptiness posing as a real person.
Well, that is probably the case in many families, but hardly any children grow up to be cannibalistic serial killers. So the mystery of "Why?" remains. But this account goes farther than almost any other book on serial killers I've read in plumbing to the undertow of trouble that can flow in even the "best" families.
It is an ugly world when this happens and uglier still when these things first march into view.
When I first saw this book I thought it was the culmination of the two of these things, and I accordingly dismissed it for a time because the idea repulsed me and the few sensibilities I try to stay connected with. The thing that changed my mind on reading the book was an interview done with Lionel and his son a year or so before Jeffrey's death, when Jeffrey was setting with his dad and talking about many of the things that had transpired. Amongst many of the questions J.D. was asked, he was asked to tell his dad what he thought about what his father had written. This seemed to catch both of them off-guard a bit, but Dahmer finally responded by saying that the book captured things that even he had forgotten and that he thought the book was worth reading.
Considering how reviled Dahmer was by what he saw himself as, I wondered what that meant and wanted to look into the topic. And what I found was what the title entailed - it as a father trying to understand how his son had become something that he couldn't come close to comprehending.
Far from the read that True Crime readers might be looking for, this is the story of a father and the son he desperately tried to recall. It accordingly goes into the early aspects of the boy and delves into a few curious aspects that the father remembers, but it really spends a lot of its time trying to see where things "went wrong" instead of focusing on the gruesome details of what had transpired. That isn't to say there aren't references to the events that had transpired because there are, and that isn't to say that there aren't times when it seems like Lionel hopes he is blameless because all fathers would hope they were free of this guilt. The thing is that the point of the book is really to look at the exploration of a father wondering about the horrors his son was capable of and where that came from.
It did this by exploring everything, even looking into the idea of love and wondering how one could possibly ever atone for something so terrible as what his son had done. It also looked at where the father could have gone wrong, and the ideas were - painful.
I'm not going to go as far as some people and commend Lionel Dahmer for writing this book because I'm not sure anyone deserves a commendation for something like this. I will say that the book looked like a struggle, however, and that this struggle looked like one that seems almost unimaginable.
I would rarely recommend reading of this type but, in this case, the reviews are merited and then some. Knowing the topic tells you if you are interested in it and, if you are, then this is a prospective normally never acquired.
My heart goes out to the victims, family and friends of.
Mental health should not go unnoticed and avoided!