On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Published in 1996
Thibault’s Score: 5/5
This book is essential reading. On Killing has completely changed my understanding of warfare and atrocities, and will likely stand out for many years as one of the most impactful books in my life.
Lt. Col. Grossman has collected hundreds of interviews and scientific studies into a powerfully written exposé of modern war. He explains the natural resistance towards killing experienced by all people at length, and the methods that armies use to overcome these instincts. He also explains the psychology of military atrocities.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It was one of the emotionally hardest books that I’ve read in a long time. However, I found the lessons contained within it to be invaluable.
I will never look at war the same way after seeing this book. It is an absolute must for anyone studying war, as it helps turn abstract concepts of invasions or battles into more concrete stories of human suffering.
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