On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
is a book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
exploring the psychology
of the act of killing
and the military
establishment's attempt to understand and deal with the consequences of killing.
The book proposes that contrary to popular perception, the majority of soldiers in war do not ever fire their weapons and that this is due to an innate resistance to killing. Realizing this the military has instituted training measures to break down this resistance and has successfully raised soldier's firing rates to over ninety percent. However there are great psychological costs that weigh heavily on the combat soldier who kills.
Reviews and Responses
- "...illuminating account of how soldiers learn to kill and how they live with the experience of having killed...This book concludes with an impassioned plea for regulating media violence through social censure and pressure. This surely, is a sensible and welcome recommendation."
- "On Killing is destined to become a classic."
-Army (Journal of the Association of the United States Army)
- "I enjoyed (if that is the right word to use) On Killing enormously, congratulations on a fine piece of work."
-Richard Holmes, author of Acts of War and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst History Professor