• On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman {book review}

    On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and SocietyOn Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman

    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    This is one of those books you have to take with a grain of salt. While reading it, it was very clear that the author grew up in the anti-Vietnam era, and much of the evidence for his arguments comes from that era as well as WWII, some from WWI, and an occasional mention of other wars.

    Despite that, this topic is wonderful. It’s a hard topic to be sure, but it needs to be research, discussed, and our understanding of killing needs to evolve. Grossman does a great job for the first half of the book, discussing the elements of our psychology that make the majority of us react the way we do in war. (Yes, I’m a former soldier.) There were parts where I wanted him to go into more detail, but he didn’t, and others where it dragged on, beating the topic for several chapters at a time, but with many more examples.

    One of the reasons I’m not giving this book my normal full review is because I didn’t get through it before I had to return it to the library. The other reason is that I got to the second part of the book when it went from more academic to more finger-pointing-blame on violence in today’s society. I found the way it was written to be more of that anti-Vietnam sentiment tinting it, and thus pretty difficult to read without rolling my eyes excessively. I have read many arguments on the other side of Grossman’s, and I find more validity in them. Despite of this, I do plan to come back to this book to read the last few chapters. When I’ve done that, whenever that is, I’ll redo my review here. Until then, if anyone else has read the book and would like to volunteer their opinions, feel free to contact us.

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