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The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer Paperback – 1 Nov 1993
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When Milwaukee police entered Jeffrey Dahmer's North 25th Street apartment in July 1991, they discovered that for some time this quiet, undemonstrative man had been living amidst the debris of an orgy of killing. A severed head lay in the refrigerator. A freezer contained two more heads and a human torso. Two skulls and a complete skeleton were found in a filing cabinet. A styrofoam box concealed two more skulls, and a large blue plastic drum was found to contain three further human torsos in various stages of decomposition. This is the story of the mass murderer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Brian Masters's subjects for biography have ranged from John Aspinall to E.F. Benson, from Marie Corelli to Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire. His study of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen, "Killing for Company", won the Gold Dagger Award for non-fiction in 1985.
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It seems odd to say that I really liked a book with such a traumatizing story to tell, but the rigorous research, the balancing of evidence and the authors desire to give an accurate and balanced account of the crimes is exemplary.While it would have been easy to demonize Dahmer for his crimes, the author instead attempts (and succeeds) to paint a complete picture of not just Dahmer, but the society in which he lived and how it failed him, just as he failed to fit in to it. The author does this with a both a level of detachment where necessary, but also with a compassion and empathy for the victims and Dahmer himself.
The crimes were horrific, the victims are given all the care and respect the author can offer and yet the book feels as professional and honest exploration of an incredibly difficult and sensitive topic as possible.
One of the best pieces of investigative journalism I've read.
My only criticism is that Masters seemed to criticise the participants of the trial and exact his own opinions over people as if they were fact. I did not buy this book to read what Masters thinks is truth or not, I bought it as a piece of research and one where I could create my own opinions after reading. He also seemed to think he was some kind of expert psychologist, which he is not. It is ok to disagree with the opinions of the expert witnesses of the trials but do not do so in a way that says "They're wrong and I'm right". It just came across as unprofessional and arrogant.
Apart from that this was a good book and I'm glad I read it.
It begins with the night of Dahmer's arrest and what the police were faced with. Chapter 2 then begins from the earliest points in Jeffrey's life and the problems faced by the young boy. The book continues until the time of his arrest, having discussed all of Dahmer's urges and experiences which led to that point.
This book shows the actuality, non sensationalized story of Jeffrey Dahmer, and I wholeheartedly believe that it is imperative for us not to dehumanize Dahmer, and this book is successful at examining the ways that Dahmer is just like us, rather than the things that make him different.
I simply cannot fault it.
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