Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologistby Richard Rhodes
Pub. Date: 09/14/1999
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Lonnie Athens was raised in a violent world. His father was a hot-tempered man who shot at strangers and beat his wife and literally bashed his sons' heads together. So when Athens began studying for his doctorate in Criminology at Berkeley, it was only natural that he was fascinated with the question of what makes people violent. He decided to conduct in-depth interviews with several hundred violent prison inmates, an endeavor which spanned a decade and reaped the discovery of "violentization," the four-stage process by which almost any person, regardless of race, gender, genetic heritage, or socio-economic status, can become someone who will assault, batter, rape, mutilate, or murder another human being.
Richard Rhodeswhose The Making of the Atomic Bomb garnered all of the major book awardstraces Athens's journey into the fiercest corners of our world's most brutal souls and has produced an indispensable book for anyone who has wondered why people become violent and what we can do about it. Part biography, part sociology, part intellectual history, Why They Kill is as fascinating as it insightful, as unflinching as it is wise.
- Knopf Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 6.68(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.32(d)
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This is the book for those of you who have often wanted a concrete explanation as how and why a person can commit such crimes as incest, child molestation, rape, murder, ect. This is not just another endless repetition of 'he was abused' or 'the devil made him do it' or even 'it is the fault of the system' touted by many other so called 'profesionals'. Dr. Lonnie Athens goes to the source, our prisons, and interviews several inmates, including ones that have committed violent crimes as well as those who have committed non-violent crimes. His results are simply incredible. Richard Rhodes' book details Dr. Athens' four step 'violentization' process and provides examples of each step. This book is a must-read for the professional and the curious alike.
I found the book entirely convincing and gripping from beginning to end. Having read a library copy, I'm now purchasing the book (and the books by Lonnie Athens that it profiles.) The ideas presented seemed entirely plausible in the light of my own experiences. Moreover, I am satisfied that the process of 'violentization' colors and gives texture to (at the least) much of the fabric of modern living. Although Athens' work has been criticized as a restatement of the common knowledge that 'what goes around, comes around,' the book describes very clearly how most professionals in this field have ignored this common-sensical basis for inquiry. Also very compelling is the linkage that Rhodes makes between violence in criminal activity and the institutionalized and sanctioned violence of the police force and the military. The jargon developed in this treatment clarified for me rather than obscured the points raised. I HIGHLY recommend this book, especially to those who know violence and its enduring aftermath first-hand, and who have continued to wonder about - but not accept the facile explanations often given for - violent behavior in our 'civilized society'.