On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society Paperback – Illustrated, June 1, 2009
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About the Author
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316040932
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316040938
- Item Weight : 12.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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My job involved hard labor and was just what I needed because I really wasn’t fit for polite society for the first year. After a year and a half I applied at several local law enforcement agencies and was hired by one with Civil Service. While working full time I also went back to college and got my degree in Criminal Justice. The image of the Vietnam Vet back then was of a deranged person who climbed onto a rooftop and started shooting people. I didn’t discuss Vietnam, or my recurring “Vietnam Dream”, with anybody. I needed the job, I liked the job, and I didn’t want people to think that I was crazy. Frankly, I wasn’t totally sure that I wasn’t, at least to some degree.
After about twenty years on the dept, and I was a Lt. by then, I was assigned to attend a seminar on Deadly Force and Pursuit Policies. One of the instructors was a Psychologist who covered the symptoms of PTSD. I suddenly realized that after my return from Vietnam I had fit the profile perfectly.
After retirement I was a Federal Courthouse Security Officer for eleven years. Another CSO had a copy of “On Killing” by Lt. Col. David Grossman and I read it, several times. Since then I have purchased my own copy, twice. I think that Grossman got it about 90+% right. I am not going to pick the book apart because, as Jesus warned, “while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them”. Also, I could be in error about that other 10%. Every time I read the book I learn something new, or relearn something I had forgotten. I recommend this book most highly to every combat veteran and law enforcement officer!
The book slaps a hideous roof on this monument to bad science by hiding behind the authority of Jack Thompson. This book was written in 1996, and with the benefit of hindsight (it’s now 2019) we can easily see the cracks in the facade. If the name Jack Thompson sounds familiar, it’s because he was a Florida lawyer who made national headlines in the mid-2000s with his crusade against violent video games. A crusade which ended with Thompson’s disbarment and disgrace.
The truth is, violence can be perpetrated by anyone under the right circumstances. The factors are complicated, as are the solutions. There’s no silver bullet (pun intended). Outlawing violent video games/entertainment will do nothing but make us feel better, at least until the next mass school shooting. Violent crime has already fallen in the US. If we want to continue this trend, we must do the serious, delicate, difficult work of grappling with the real reasons behind violence. That means funding mental health services and getting real data behind the factors that lead to violence and solving those as well.
In short: if you came looking for answers to the “epidemic” of violence in the US today, keep looking. You’ll find no science of value in this book.
Thanks, Lt. Col. Grossman, for studying this topic with such rigor and for explaining your work so cogently.
Top reviews from other countries
As a contrast, the book "War Games: The Psychology of Combat" covers much of the same material in a much more accessible style.