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Criminal History of Mankind [Hardcover]

Colin Wilson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Mercury Books London; 2nd Revised edition edition (30 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845600029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845600020
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.8 x 5.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,159,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

Each age has its own characteristic pattern of crime. In the past three centuries crime has vhanged and evolved until the sex killer and the mass murderer have become symbols of all that is worst about our civilizations.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man's double brain shapes his history 3 Nov 2001
Format:Hardcover
There aren't many world histories written by SF authors, but this gets 5 stars. Colin Wilson is best knownn as a novelist (Lifeforce, The Mind Parasites)and writer on subjects like the occult and the paranormal. However, this book is much more than a criminal history of mankind. It is a psychologist's explanation of the growth of the human brain from the primeval to the present, and how this has shaped our history.
Wilson's basic theme is that of the double brain, or split brain, the brain of the left and right hemispheres. The left is the conscious, the right the unconcious. Wilson explains how the two interact, but without attacking the reader with medical terms. The interactions are one cause of crime. The other cause is his second theme, that of overcrowding and the "King Rat" syndrome. In every society there is a "dominant five percent" with leadership qualities. Of that five percent there is a further five percent with a willingness to use violence...put these people in an overcrowded society and you have todays' violent killers and most notorious criminals - the King Rats.
But it cannot be stressed too strongly that this is not a sociology textbook, it is a book about individuals. Among those discussed in detail are Genghis Khan, Hitler, Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), Stalin, Tamurlane, Al Capone,the Krays...and too many others to list.
There are fascinating chapters on De Sade and the history of pornography, and there is a serious but amusing chapter on the history of the Mafia. Its development is explained from the 19th century to our more familiar Hollywood image (how many people know that pressure from the Italian lobby prevented the word MAFIA from being used in THE GODFATHER ?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Ten stars, not just five! And be thankful this fabulous book has finally been reprinted! If kids were taught history from this book maybe, just maybe, they would understand the why's instead of just memorizing a lot of quickly forgotten dates. Colin Wilson takes us through the history of the human race, beginning with an overview of man and how his brain works and why he does the things he does. He explains the evolution of crime, from the necessity which caused one tribe to take the land of another to the current serial and spree killers. And the great thing about this book is that Wilson gives us reasons, he tells us about the mentalities, the ways of thinking, at various times during history. Knowing that something happened is not enough, something most history books fail to appreciate. Understanding the climate and mentality of the time puts a whole new vista on historical events. Everything may not be in here, granted, the book is not new, but it is truly a fascinating account, probably the best history book ever written. I have three kids, and all three not only read the book but wanted copies of their own. Now, for a history book, that is a pretty good recommendation!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding achievement. 20 Mar 2004
By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Even if this was the only book Colin Wilson had ever written it would be enough to enough to cement his reputation as one of the greatest thinkers of his generation. Just the title alone shows you what a formidable task this must have been to write. Wilson goes right back to Man's earliest development, and shows how aggression has always been a part of our make-up. It's a fundamental flaw in the human psyche that has baffled philosophers for centuries. Just why is Mankind the only species on the planet that kills for pleasure? Why can Mankind never seem to learn from its mistakes, however far we progress? (I don't know about the poor always being with us, I think war will always be with us!).
This isn't just a look at the criminal elements of history though, he also shows how the major religions developed, which I found invaluable when trying to understand what's going on in the world right now. For instance how Christianity took off as a spiritual alternative to the corrupt materialism of the Romans ... and then quickly grew as corrupt itself. How Islam was founded, and all the complex factions contained therein. It's a startling fact that most religions in the world can't seem to avoid squabbling amongst themselves.
Aside from religion, he shows us the antics of some of the most evil men in history, and the swathe of killing they indulged themselves in, which beggars belief even in this cynical age, for instance the carnage wrecked by Tamarlane is quite gobsmacking. He explains to us The Right Man syndrome, how some men (and to a lesser extent women) become so crazed by their own egos that they defy any rationale, which has been responsible for some of the most outrageous crimes and mass murders ever committed.
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