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

Extended Audio Sample On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society Audiobook, by Dave Grossman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 5 4.24 (33 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Dave Grossman Narrator: Dave Grossman Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2009 ISBN: 9781600245954
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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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An illuminating account.” 

    Washington Post

  • “Grossman argues that the breakdown of American society, combined with the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games, is conditioning our children to kill in a manner similar to the army’s conditioning of soldiers: ‘We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the infliction of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it.’ Grossman, a professor of military science at Arkansas State University, has written a study of relevance to a society of escalating violence.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • On Killing delivers insights on human nature that are both gratifying and repelling.” 

    Booklist

  • “This systematic examination of the individual soldier’s behavior, like all good scientific theory making, leads to a series of useful explanations for a variety of phenomena, such as the high rate of post traumatic stress disorders among Vietnam veterans, why the rate of aggravated assault continues to climb, and why civilian populations that have endured heavy bombing in warfare do not have high incidents of mental illness. This important book deserves a wide readership.” 

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 1/28/2014

    " Fascinating topic and interesting hypothesis. The second half of the book became somewhat repetitive. At times it felt more like listening to a college professor's lecture than reading a scholarly book. I happened to like my college lecturers for the most part so that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I would like to see a more up to date version dealing with the wars occurring today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marilyn Zeiler | 1/22/2014

    " A very interesting book for those trained for combat, self defense, police work. It investigates the psychological effect on the person who is training to kill whether for combat or self defense, It also covers the affects of violence in video games on those who play them. Very good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allen Smith | 1/17/2014

    " If a person were to read one book researching a overview of the act of killing in wartime-broadly studying the directed engagement or resistance thereof-this should be the text to consult. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman presents a eye opening case around the training of soldiers in combat, and reveals statistics regarding the minimal hand to hand or up close fatalities, whereof distance or altered optics remains a required aspect to depersonalize the act of taking another life. There is added reflection upon the growing gun violence in civilian shootings in revised editions, however this builds upon the militarized training that is incorporated in for instance video games where combat situations are simulated. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marjanne | 1/13/2014

    " This book was very interesting. I was not as up to date as I was expecting (it was written in the mid-1990's), but it is still relevant. It was interesting to read how people/soldiers are desensitized, and how that is at play in our media (and even worse now than it was when the book was written). Being the wife of a veteran I felt like it gave me some insight into some of the things my husband has experienced, and I hope it helps me to understand and support him better. This book should be read by anyone who supports a soldier (family and/or friends), and especially by politicians (particularly the president, governors, senators, etc.) as they often make choices about where to wage war. It really made me sad to see how Vietnam Vets have been overlooked and mistreated. I also think that anyone who is interested in the military should read this book as it shows the dark side of being a solider rather than the guts and glory of battle. It seems that there are a lot of people out there who think they understand soldiers because they have watched Band of Brothers and play Halo. Anyhow there's a lot I could say, but just not enough time. Oh, this book isn't for the faint of heart, or at least they shouldn't be surprised. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mare Grohowski | 1/8/2014

    " Every one in the world needs to read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin Beck | 12/10/2013

    " A review on how easy it is to train our soldiers today because of all the postitive reinforcement associated with movies and video games. Eating popcorn while watching someone get beat to death - shoot 10 people advance to the next game level. The last few chapters focus on PTSD and blames the rise in occurance on how we bring our soldiers home from war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacob | 12/5/2013

    " I very good book for any one wanting to understand modern soldiers and the modern mindset in regards to killing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zac | 11/30/2013

    " Everyone should read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathanstray Stray | 9/25/2013

    " Extremely insightful. Dispels a lot of what we think we know about the act of intentionally killing someone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronald Dahle | 9/12/2013

    " An excellent review on the problems in getting people to kill and the efforts taken to overcome that problem. Has been a major factor in every war we have been in since the Revolution. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 arriki | 9/3/2013

    " A great psychological study. I write action adventure stories and this helped me gain a deeper understanding of my characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 8/9/2013

    " Excellent book. Easy to read, for anyone, and the ideas in it are both frightening and important. A must-read for anyone who works in a field where they might actually have to kill someone one day. Military, Police, Sushi chefs, etc. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ian Billick | 7/27/2013

    " Some fascinating facts, such as 50,000 bullets fired person person kill by an infantry man, compared to just over 1 bullet fired per person killed in Vietnam. So an interesting thesis with some provocative tidbits, but not particularly well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kinderplatz | 7/23/2013

    " Disturbing in some respects, but more insightful in looking at what it means to kill in the modern day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Raina | 7/3/2013

    " It is hard to read, but, if war and the plight and responsibility of our soldiers is important to you, this will give you insight. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nordo | 5/11/2013

    " Great book for anyone associated with military or law enforcement, or thinking of joining either. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 5/10/2013

    " Should be required reading for all law enforcement and military training programs. Fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric Elliott | 11/18/2012

    " This is a very enlightening book about the reactions of people to war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ed | 9/22/2012

    " The real origins of combat post traumatic stress disorder. How behaviorist psychology helped overcome human resistance to kill in basic infant training and the enormous human "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glen | 11/17/2011

    " A good book for anyone trying to understand the cost of conflict. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cordell | 11/14/2011

    " I spent 23 years in the army doing my part for the flag and I still dont know what to think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 E.D. Martin | 7/19/2011

    " It took me months to read this because I had to force myself to read it. I hate our military, the things they do to soldiers. Damn. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jake | 6/15/2011

    " Worth reading. It is both generally thought provoking and provides a few gems that I haven't seen anywhere else. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tristanb18 | 5/15/2011

    " It all makes sense up until he starts talking about stabbing being a Freudian thing. I buuy everything up until that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yosep | 5/6/2011

    " Such an enlightening and humbling book. Everyone should read this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 AnchorageMA | 2/22/2011

    " A more accessible volume than On Combat, covering much of the same territory. It is meant for the general public, and it garnered more success and a great deal of attention when it was released. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jake | 1/20/2011

    " Worth reading. It is both generally thought provoking and provides a few gems that I haven't seen anywhere else. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 1/2/2011

    " Fascinating and important. I wish the prose style was a little more elegant and I wish the author repeated himself less, but a very important work nonetheless
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Troy | 1/2/2011

    " A must read for soldiers and psychologists. Introduced me to the fallacy of the flight/fight reaction and the correlation of psychological impact and distance between killer and killed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tristanb18 | 1/1/2011

    " It all makes sense up until he starts talking about stabbing being a Freudian thing. I buuy everything up until that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phoebe | 12/27/2010

    " This is one of the most important books to read in regards to the information necessary in shaping one's opinion toward war and its participants. Its importance is immense for the whole spectrum of opinions towards war, from those who embrace it to those who vehemently reject it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ian | 12/21/2010

    " Some fascinating facts, such as 50,000 bullets fired person person kill by an infantry man, compared to just over 1 bullet fired per person killed in Vietnam. So an interesting thesis with some provocative tidbits, but not particularly well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juliette | 12/19/2010

    " If you've ever wondered what it takes to kill another human being, and how people cope with doing so, this book will open your eyes. Not for the faint of heart. A must-read for those interested in the military. "

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About the Author
A former army Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman taught psychology at West Point and is currently the professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University.