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On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace [Paperback]

Dave Grossman , Loren W. Christensen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 2008
On Combat looks at what happens to the human body under the stresses of deadly battle the impact on the nervous system, heart, breathing, visual and auditory perception, memory - then discusses new research findings as to what measures warriors can take to prevent such debilitations so they can stay in the fight, survive, and win. A brief, but insightful look at history shows the evolution of combat, the development of the physical and psychological leverage that enables humans to kill other humans, followed by an objective examination of domestic violence in America. The authors reveal the nature of the warrior, brave men and women who train their minds and bodies to go to that place from which others flee. After examining the incredible impact of a few true warriors in battle, On Combat presents new and exciting research as to how to train the mind to become inoculated to stress, fear and even pain. Expanding on Lt. Col. Grossman s popular "Bulletproof mind" presentation, the book explores what really happens to the warrior after the battle, and shows how emotions, such as relief and self-blame, are natural and healthy ways to feel about having survived combat. A fresh and highly informative look at post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) details how to prevent it, how to survive it should it happen, how to come out of it stronger, and how to help others who are experiencing it. On Combat looks at the critical importance of the debriefing, when warriors gather after the battle to share what happened, critique, learn from each other and, for some, begin to heal from the horror. The reader will learn a highly effective breathing technique that not only steadies the warrior s mind and body before and during the battle, but can also be used afterwards as a powerful healing device to help separate the emotion from the memory. Concluding chapters discuss the Christian/Judeo view of killing in combat and offers powerful insight that Lt. Col. Grossman has imparted over the years to help thousands of warriors understand and come to terms with their actions in battle. A final chapter encourages warriors to always fight for justice, not vengeance, so that their remaining days will be healthy ones filled with pride for having performed their duty morally and ethically. This information-packed book ploughs new ground in its vision, in its extensive new research and startling findings, and in its powerful, revealing quotes and anecdotes from top people in the warrior community, people who have faced the toxic environment of deadly combat and now share their wisdom to help others. On Combat is easy to read and powerful in scope. It is a true classic that will be read by new and veteran warriors for years to come.

Product details

  • Paperback: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Warrior Science Publications; 3 edition (Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964920549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964920545
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. Colonel Grossman is a West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which he has termed killology. In this new field Colonel Grossman has made revolutionary new contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of war, the root causes of the current "virus" of violent crime that is raging around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and peace. He is the author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is required reading in classes at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy, police academies worldwide, and peace studies programs in numerous universities and colleges. Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, co-authored with Gloria DeGaetano, has received international acclaim. Colonel Grossman s book On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace, now in its third edition, is on the USMC Commandant's required reading list and is required reading at the DEA Academy. Colonel Grossman has been called upon to write the entry on Aggression and Violence in the Oxford Companion to American Military History, three entries in the Academic Press Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict and numerous entries in scholarly journals, to include the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He has presented papers before the national conventions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has presented to over 40 different colleges and universities world-wide. He has served as an expert witness and consultant in state and Federal courts, to include United States vs. Timothy McVeigh. He helped train mental health professionals after the Jonesboro school shootings, and he was also involved in counseling, training, or court cases in the aftermath of the school shootings at Paducah, Springfield, Littleton, Nickel Mines Amish School, and Virginia Tech. He has testified before U.S. Senate and Congressional committees and numerous state legislatures, and he and his research have been cited in a national address by the President of the United States. Col. Grossman is an Airborne Ranger infantry officer, and a prior-service sergeant and paratrooper, with a total of over 23 years experience in leading U.S. soldiers worldwide. He retired from the Army in February 1998 and has devoted himself full-time to teaching, writing, speaking, and research. Today he is the director of the Killology Research Group, and in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks he is on the road almost 300 days a year, training elite military and law enforcement organizations worldwide about the reality of combat.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 18 July 2006
Advertising for this marvelous work states, "a ground-breaking examination of what it takes to perform, cope and survive in the toxicity of deadly combat as a soldier in a foreign land and a police officer in the mean streets of urban America." It really is all that, and more... Outstanding isn't a strong enough word to describe it.

If you are a soldier, a police officer, a martial artist, the holder of a concealed weapons permit, or just live in a bad neighborhood you really ought to read this book. Both authors have engaged in deadly conflict, been forced to kill, and learned to survive the experience yet continue to conduct themselves as decent human beings. Not only do they know what they are talking about, but they are introspective enough to understand a larger picture of what they have endured and are clearly articulate this hard won wisdom. Their thought provoking, insightful work definitively examines every aspect of the psychology and physiology of deadly conflict.

The book begins by describing what happens to a person anatomically during a battle then covers the perceptual distortions that take place in combat. Having done college studies on eyewitness testimony and psychology and the law I recognize and agree with many of their points. The second half of the book covers why people put themselves in harms way and what happens to them after the smoke clears. It talks about post traumatic stress disorder, survivor's guilt, and a host of related subjects. I particularly liked the section on the Judeo/Christian views of killing which really help warriors understand and come to grips with their actions in battle - be it on the field of war, a city street, or even in their own back yard.

The research is great.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you havent got a copy....GET ONE! 10 May 2010
I'd heard a great deal about On Combat prior to buying it, most of it very positive and some negative, from those who had already read Grossman's On Killing and compared the two. I hadn't read either so embarked on this read with a completely open mind. Using beautiul and poignant quotes, poetry and real life accounts from veteran soldiers and police officers; Grossman and Christenson allow the layman to gain a greater understanding of what it is to be a modern day warrior. The terrible stresses and split second decisions that could cost them or somebody else their lives. The consequences of their actions on not only them but their families and loved ones.

How often have we heard our troops being criticised and castigated for their actions by press, media and people at home who have not got the slightest clue of what those men and women have to endure on a daily basis. I for one cannot imagine what it is like to have to kill or be killed, see a friend maimed or blown to pieces then have to deal with it and try to get on with life like a normal person. I dont know what it is like to have to deal with armed criminals or brainless football hooligans taunting and gouding me when the first thing I have to consider is not the danger I and people around me may be in but what trouble I could get into if I have to use force on tehse scum. Our soldiers and police officers deal with these decisions daily and should be praised for it not questioned and criticised.

On Combat is an excellent and very relevant read for everyone, especially those in direct contact with someone in a stressful, dangerous and thankless occupation whether they're a warrior or not.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for all who work with young people! 3 Sep 2005
Dave has written a very clever book that explains exactly how all modern societies are conditioning their young people to kill in a very precise, clinical and effective manner. A frightening revelation that has me totally convinced about the dangers of providing techno-based games that mimic real life and which use highly accurate plastic versions of modern weapons.
His description of the child who killed eight people with eight bullets after thousands of hours on a simulation game and after handling a real gun only the day before the killing scares me witless. His thoughts on the 'Game over' effect have me wondering how this can be introduced as a safeguard even before real-life violence occurs.
A must read for all teachers, youth workers, counsellors, psychologists, police, correction officers and parents.
A fascinating and compelling read for those of us conditioned by years of training in the military and police - it explains exactly why our training is so effective.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag - bit annoying overall. 17 July 2014
By DrAndy
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It's alright but he goes on a bit. Some useful stuff in there for emergency medics but I got bored with his backward attitude toward video game violence whilst being blinkered to the role of freely available guns in all of it. He thinks the answer to escalating gun crime lies in 'biggering and biggering*' the guns the authorities carry. This stuff overshadowed the interesting stuff.

I can summarise the 18 hours: Practice, practice, practice in the most high fidelity way you can. That's it.

*Thankyou Dr Suess
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