On Killing

On Killing

The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

Book - 2009 | Rev. ed.
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The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.

Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2009.
Edition: Rev. ed.
ISBN: 9780316040938
0316040932
Branch Call Number: 355.0019 GROSSMA
Characteristics: xxxvi, 377 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.

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1aa
Nov 10, 2016

An astonishing, even frightening book. Its extremely well structured (about forty chapters for about 330 pages of text). One eye-popping moment was the marching song that ran "I want to rape, kill, pillage and burn, and eat dead babies" (pg., 311-12, slightly modified) (I wonder what other nation's marching songs are; how would one find out the DPRK's marching songs?) A highly edifying read, aided by the use of many diagrams.

c
cattlekids7
Jun 09, 2015

I read it at 14. It's a great book

unbalancedbutfair Nov 04, 2012

This book has some very valuable ideas in it. It builds off of
groundbreaking research from WWII about the effects of "battle
fatigue" ("shellshock" in the previous war, "post traumatic
stress disorder" now days). Along with that research was information
about the firing rate, namely that for much of the history of
war only a minority of the soldiers in the field tried to kill
the enemy. This was a very well made argument that is very intruiging
He quickly points out that something that common cannot be cowardice
but rather is something important about human psychology in general.
And if there is that much natural resistance to killing there
are important questions such as "how do you get soldiers to
kill?" and the repurcussions "What are the psychological
ramifications?" While he is plodding and repetitive at points
the substance of his arguments are well worth entertaining. I
would like to see more sources and research in this area, which
is part of his argument, that there has been a lack of study
of this important aspect of human civilization. Anyone interested
in war, killing, or society would benefit from reading this.
Don't necessarily swallow it, but entertain it.

b
bfowler
Aug 23, 2010

Grossman's thesis is controversial, yet it is useful in exposing the range of stress that combat soldiers can experience

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cattlekids7
Jun 09, 2015

cattlekids7 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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red_shark_785
Mar 23, 2015

red_shark_785 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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