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ON KILLING

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL COST OF LEARNING TO KILL IN WAR AND SOCIETY

Some perceptive, original ideas can be dredged out of this awkwardly written, haphazardly annotated treatise on the psychological forces that come into play in killing on the battlefield. Grossman is not shy about repeatedly describing himself and his credentials as ``a psychologist who is also a historian and a career soldier,'' having served two decades in the Army. He certainly brings a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to this book, but despite his 20 years of military service, Grossman has not killed in combat. On the other hand, he has interviewed many men who have and has studied the literature about the psychology of killing and its aftermath. Despite his strident tone, Grossman imparts a few insightful ideas about his difficult subject. His main achievement is clearly spelling out what he calls ``society's unspoken conspiracy of deception that glorifies killing and war.'' The author shows the extremely unpleasant nature of war by illuminating the ``emotional reactions and underlying processes'' that result in the often longlasting psychological damage that befalls soldiers who kill other human beings on the battlefield. He explains that it is entirely normal when those who, in battle, have overcome our innate resistance to killing experience postwar adjustment problems, including remorse and guilt (though he notes distinct differences between those who kill at close range and those, like bomber pilots, who kill at a distance). Grossman's most valuable section is his reiteration of the special problems faced by Vietnam veterans, who came home to an often indifferent and sometimes antagonistic reception. ``Only the veterans of Vietnam,'' the author rightly points out, ``have endured a concerted, organized, psychological attack by their own people.'' A reader-unfriendly look at an unpleasant but important subject. (16 charts, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 1995

ISBN: 0-316-33000-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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