On Killing

On Killing

The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

eBook - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A controversial psychological examination of how soldiers' willingness to kill has been encouraged and exploited to the detriment of contemporary civilian society. Psychologist and US Army Ranger Dave Grossman writes that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to pull the trigger in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The mental cost for members of the military, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The sociological cost for the rest of us is even worse: Contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, Grossman argues, is responsible for the rising rate of murder and violence, especially among the young. Drawing from interviews, personal accounts, and academic studies, On Killing is an important look at the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.
Publisher: New York : E-Reads, ©2009
ISBN: 0759294208 (electronic bk.)
9780759294202 (electronic bk.)
0759277257 (electronic bk.)
9780759277250 (electronic bk.)
0759245576 (electronic bk.)
9780759245570 (electronic bk.)
Branch Call Number: eBOOK 355.0019 GRO
Characteristics: 1 online resource : illustrations


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 10, 2016

An astonishing, even frightening book. Its extremely well structured (about forty chapters for about 330 pages of text). One eye-popping moment was the marching song that ran "I want to rape, kill, pillage and burn, and eat dead babies" (pg., 311-12, slightly modified) (I wonder what other nation's marching songs are; how would one find out the DPRK's marching songs?) A highly edifying read, aided by the use of many diagrams.

Jun 09, 2015

I read it at 14. It's a great book

unbalancedbutfair Nov 04, 2012

This book has some very valuable ideas in it. It builds off of
groundbreaking research from WWII about the effects of "battle
fatigue" ("shellshock" in the previous war, "post traumatic
stress disorder" now days). Along with that research was information
about the firing rate, namely that for much of the history of
war only a minority of the soldiers in the field tried to kill
the enemy. This was a very well made argument that is very intruiging
He quickly points out that something that common cannot be cowardice
but rather is something important about human psychology in general.
And if there is that much natural resistance to killing there
are important questions such as "how do you get soldiers to
kill?" and the repurcussions "What are the psychological
ramifications?" While he is plodding and repetitive at points
the substance of his arguments are well worth entertaining. I
would like to see more sources and research in this area, which
is part of his argument, that there has been a lack of study
of this important aspect of human civilization. Anyone interested
in war, killing, or society would benefit from reading this.
Don't necessarily swallow it, but entertain it.

Aug 23, 2010

Grossman's thesis is controversial, yet it is useful in exposing the range of stress that combat soldiers can experience


Add Age Suitability

Jun 09, 2015

cattlekids7 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Mar 23, 2015

red_shark_785 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at KCLS

To Top