We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society | [Dave Grossman]

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating.
Regular Price:$23.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion.

The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: 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 first 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 the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.

Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent crime rates, suicide bombings, school shootings, and much more. The result is a work that is sure to be relevant and important for decades to come.

©2009 David Grossman; (P)2009 David Grossman

What the Critics Say

"This important book deserves a wide readership." (Library Journal)

More from the same

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (448 )
5 star
 (256)
4 star
 (126)
3 star
 (45)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (6)
Overall
4.4 (296 )
5 star
 (173)
4 star
 (80)
3 star
 (33)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.3 (294 )
5 star
 (138)
4 star
 (108)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    g 05-20-10
    g 05-20-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Adam G"

    As a new platoon leader getting ready to lead 50 Soldiers into Iraq, I wanted to read something to get me prepared for a world which I know little about, the world of killing.

    LTC Grossman presents a myriad of reasons soldiers will or will not kill in the vital moment. Although at this point I may not agree on the strengths to which each has, they all made sense. His section on PTSD, the mindset of the soldier after killing, and methods of overcoming both were extremely useful.

    Although others may not like this book due to its lack of in depth psychological analysis, I highly recommend this book to anybody looking for an easy to understand look at the human reaction to killing.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik Manhattan, KS, USA 05-14-10
    Erik Manhattan, KS, USA 05-14-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Deep insight into the psychology of killing"

    As a Soldier in the US Army, I was intrigued and hesitant about reading this. I assumed that the book would be biased and uninformed, but I listened anyways. LTC Grossman provides a deep study of the human condition and the effects that the mind goes though, before, during, and after the kill. Not only does LTC Grossman explore the psyche of the killer, he touches on the use of modified operant conditioning by modern militaries to train its Soldiers to kill. Then to top it off, he talks about how this type of conditioning is being implemented in our society today, and the potential effects that it has on everyone, including children, who are a prime candidate for conditioning. A MUST READ for Combat Arms leaders, so that they can understand what their soldiers are going through, and how they can help with the process.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larsen Clovis, CA, United States 09-12-11
    Larsen Clovis, CA, United States 09-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More to it than I knew."

    I always thought I had a solid combat mindset and I still think so, however this book revealed to me how little thought I had given it. I now see clearly combat mindset is not so simple as knowing you will press the trigger when you need to. This book also gave me some insights into other generations.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael TAMPA, FL, USA 07-05-09
    Michael TAMPA, FL, USA 07-05-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    229
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Deadly Accurate"

    Col. Grossman is a dynamic speaker in person. He reads the book in a conversational tone. This book is packed with information on the psychology of making the decision to use or not to use deadly force, as well as the emotional response to the aftermath. He is the foremost expert on the psychology of killing. I read the book several years ago and was not dissapointed by the audio.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Z. Wixom, MI 05-05-10
    Paul Z. Wixom, MI 05-05-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    156
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    323
    48
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    12
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book"

    I enjoyed this book. I have a history degree and I think this book, whether you want to agree with the thesis or not, should be required reading to fill in the gap between those who see war as the pinnacle or the scourge of society. I think Grossman makes a good argument that it is neither.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Canada 02-12-13
    John Canada 02-12-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent work"
    Where does On Killing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Extremely well written and thought out.


    What about Dave Grossman’s performance did you like?

    You can hear his interest and sympathy as he reads his work.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Working Poor Nor Cal 09-15-09
    Working Poor Nor Cal 09-15-09 Member Since 2008

    JD

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    611
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    2
    Overall
    "Kept my attention from play to end ... non-stop"

    Albeit, a bit "pop", and some ideas proposed at the end are a little sketchy ... this book seems well researched, -I spent six years in the Army-, very intriguing, at times captivating, and well written. I would highly recommend.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John HobartUS Minor Outlying Islands 07-05-09
    John HobartUS Minor Outlying Islands 07-05-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    382
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    ""Most Powerfull""

    This was a very enlighting experience! Some points were a little disturbing. It sure was a great listen. Especially if you want to know what goes through a soldier's head.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hayden Matthews, NC, USA 04-18-10
    Hayden Matthews, NC, USA 04-18-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    100
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "An Interesting Idea"

    The topic of the psychological effects of violence is an intriguing topic with much potential, particularly when addressed by a professor of psychology who is also a career military officer, but ultimately that potential is what made On Killing so disappointing.

    With verbatim repetitions throughout, it more resembles a collection of essays than a book. The most serious issue though, is the presence of speculative and sweeping assertions, such as the claim that, what is hubristically described as a previously undiscovered aspect of psychology (revulsion to killing), may have been responsible for the election outcomes of wartime Presidents forced to go to the polls immediately after the end of hostilities. To the author's credit he does acknowledge that last assertion might be extending his work too far.

    It is clear when evidence is offered, such as frequent references to B.F Skinner's (at best) obsolete work, that Grossman didn't do his homework. Most troubling, however, is the study on which Grossman rests his thesis; S.L.A Marshall's survey of World War II soldiers claiming to show only 25% will fire at an exposed enemy. The soldiers supposedly interviewed later denied ever being asked about their firing rates, a fact which has been known to military psychologists for over twenty years. It would be interesting to buy the physical copy of this book to see the bibliography.

    The number and severity of basic errors costs makes the reader wonder if the author knows what he is talking about, and that's a shame given the enormous potential and relevance of this topic. On a positive note, the narration was good.

    18 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 08-30-09
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 08-30-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    269
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    151
    62
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    12
    3
    Overall
    "a bit too pop psych"

    It's an interesting book. It certainly looks at this issue from a perspective I never had before. Having said that though, I question the methodology and find the conclusions less than absolutely compelling. Correlation is not causation, and for almost everything for which he asserted a single cause, because of an existing correlation, I could think of an unexplained alternative. Perhaps he dealt with them in his research and simply didn't put it in the book, but if so, that elevates it only to the level of pop psychology which tends to oversimplify its subject matter in order to break it down into easily digestable bites for non-psychology readers. That's not necessarily a bad thing since it can give those readers insight into the human condition, which is almost always useful, but it can be frustrating for anyone with a background in psychology. Having said all of these things which seem negative, I rather enjoyed the read. It gave me a new perspective on the subject of killing. It made me think in a new way, and I forced a friend to read it so we could discuss the more interesting points.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 29 results PREVIOUS123NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.