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On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
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.
A fascinating study
By Andrew McCaffrey "The Grumpy Young Man"
- January 23, 2004
ON KILLING is the study of what author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has termed "killology". This odd term describes, not killing between nations, but the exact circumstances involved when one individual ends the life of another individual, with the primary focus being on combat situations. I've sometimes wondered how I (someone who has never been anywhere near armed conflict) would fare on the frontlines, as killing another human being seems like an almost impossible psychological task. As Grossman casts an eye over historical reports of combat, he found that, apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking that. During the First and Second World Wars, officers estimated that only 15-20 percent of their frontline soldiers actually fired their weapons, and there is evidence to suggest that most of those who did fire aimed their rifles harmless above the heads of their enemy.Grossman's argument is carefully researched and methodically laid out. He begins by filling in some historical... read more
By R. Mclatcher
- November 9, 2006
As a police officer we spend many hours in various forms of training. Some of this training is dedicated to the rules surrounding the use of our department issued firearms. Some of this training is dedicated to the physical skill of firing this weapon. None of the training is dedicated to what you go through after having actualy used this weapon against another human being in self defense. The extent of my departments response was...absolutely no critical incident debriefing and my appointment with the department phycologist occured 9 days after the shooting. The evaluation by the physcologist last 23 minutes total. At that point I knew that my well being was up to me to provide for. After some research I located this series of books by Dave Grossman. Purchasing these books was the best thing I could have done for myself. The information within these pages helped me understand all the stages of emotion that I was, and still am, going through. I would recommend these books to... read more
LTC Grossman was my favorite Commander.
By Elizabeth D. Allbrandt "allbrandtr"
- March 8, 2003
I just wanted to write a quick note and review about LTC Grossman's book and his character. I read a review which stated that, "His only vaguely denounced and hidden desire to change the US Constitution make me want to examine Mr. Grossman's education and military record in depth."
Let me say, I served briefly under LTC Grossman, then Major Grossman as a new Second Lieutenant in the US Army. He was, in my opinion, one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and studied officers I ever had the privilege of serving with. It was LTC Grossman, that first instilled in me how a professional soldier acts, thinks, commands, and motivates. LTC Grossman used to give a speech to ROTC Cadets during summer training at Ft. Lewis, WA that was so motivational, by the end the cadets would literally stand up and scream for more. The Army videotaped the presentation and often tried (unsuccessfully) to duplicate it. LTC Grossman used to lead philosophical discussions about the "warrior... read more
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