Thursday, March 19, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 12 -- On Killing

by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman

Started: March 9
Finished: March 19

Notes: The subtitle of this book is "The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society," so you'll know where it's coming from. The author was an officer in the U.S. Army, and is also a historian and psychologist. The topic is of interest to me not only for intellectual reasons, but also because my fiction's characters sometimes kill, and perhaps this book will help me to add a level of realism to my characters' struggles.

Mini review: Three-fourths of this book focuses upon the psychology and training of soldiers throughout history, but especially during WWI and WWII and Vietnam. Of major importance here is how the individual soldier emotionally and mentally copes with what he faces or faced during combat. The last part of this book takes a look at society, specifically U.S. society, and the influences of technology upon the violence found within the society. This book is 20 years old, so perhaps there have been more studies and potential breakthroughs in this area of psychology since then, but much of what is written here is still relevant. I've looked, but I've not found an updated edition or another, more modern book by the author on this subject, which is a shame considering U.S. history during the last couple of decades. I highly suggest this book for writers who have characters who kill, to better study the effects such has on the average person, even soldiers, especially soldiers.


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like something I'd be interested in.

Ty said...

Yeah, I thought of you while reading it. Maybe you can write an updated version. :-)