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On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Societyby Dave Grossman
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Book News Annotation:
Grossman examines the effects that killing people has on individual soldiers and on the U.S. as a whole. He shows that most soldiers don't want to kill, and describes the lengths to which the military must go in order to override soldiers' inhibitions and get them to kill people. Despite this indoctrination, soldiers who kill pay a huge psychological price, especially in terms of post-traumatic stress. Grossman suggests that a similar process of desensitization toward killing and violence has taken place in U.S. society in the past two decades, largely a result of violence in the electronic media. (He singles out violent video games as a culprit.) He warns that the resulting increase in killing and violent behavior is a grave danger to the nation's future. A new introduction shows how events since the book's original publication in 1995 have validated Grossman's conclusions about killing and societal violence. Dave Grossman is a former psychology professor at West Point and current director of the Killology Research Group. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military techniques.
About the Author
A former army Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman taught psychology at West Point and was the professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University.
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