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Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert K. Ressler

Whoever Fights Monsters (1992)

by Robert K. Ressler, Tom Shachtman, Tom Shachtman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
442735,332 (3.6)7
  1. 00
    Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool by Ronald M. Holmes (meggyweg)
  2. 00
    Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers - Up Close and Personal by Jack Levin (meggyweg)
  3. 00
    Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are about early FBI profilers attempting to understand the minds of serial killers. Mindhunter is the more dramatically written while Whoever Fights Monsters included more specifics on profiling itself.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Incredibly interesting, if not a little dry, portrait of serial killers under the lens of behavioral science. I feel (probably wrongly haha) that I could definitely identify a serial killer if asked to. Honestly, the only reason this is getting 3 stars instead of 4 is that I read it before bed a couple times and had the most disturbing nightmares of my entire life. So...proceed with caution I supposed. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
This is another of those books that has been on my to-read list for a long time. As noted above, Robert Ressler has been tracking serial killers with the FBI for 20 years and his experience shows. He is rather humble and admits that ‘Profilers don’t catch killers. Cops catch killers.’ Profiling is just a tool to help them.

This book is part auto-biography and part the history of profiling. The auto-biography part is not extensive, just enough to let you know how Mr. Ressler got into the FBI and why he holds some of the opinions he does.

He details the work he initiated in interviewing serial killers and how they differ. He also gives brief histories of some cases, some very well known, Dahmer and Gacy, and some that I hadn’t heard of, which of course means, more books to read!

This was a very easy (well despite the subject matter) book to read. It has a nice conversational style, informative, and not at all boring. I recommend this book. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 5, 2016 |
A book that goes inside the serial killers' way of thinking. However, I believe that this book had the potential to be a slam dunk, but it just wasn't. The author glossed over many details that may have been interesting to the reader. Still, the interviews with the killers was somewhat interesting. To me, however, it seemed that the author missed something along the way. ( )
  KWoman | Oct 6, 2012 |
True accounts from a genuine criminal profiler. How he works and what clues he finds significant in solving a crime. An interesting read. ( )
  Borg-mx5 | Mar 25, 2010 |
Robert Ressler was one of the first profilers in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit. He was the one to coin the term 'serial killer', and his work interviewing mass murderers and serial killers has been seminal in learning more about how their minds work, and how to catch them.

Unlike Mind Hunter, the strength of this book really lies in the organization. Ressler deals with different aspects of killers' psyche, including childhood warning signs and even staging crimes. It's very interesting to see Ressler explain how he arrives at certain characteristics in his profiles. However, Ressler's account suffers from a distinct lack of the dramatic. While he describes several of the same cases as John Douglas, they are described less graphically and we never get a sense of Ressler's personal involvement or the stakes in an ongoing investigation. Including more of the cases he was actively profiling would have made the book more interesting.

Where Douglas came across as hogging the limelight, Ressler made it very clear that his was part of a team effort. He takes pains to give credit to local law enforcement, professional mental health professionals, and on occasion even a psychic. Personally, I found this approach more palatable. Like Douglas, Ressler has some very decided opinions on the death penalty, bureaucracy, and therapists. But in Ressler's case, it didn't bother me. This may have been because his views aligned more closely with my own, but I think it had more to do with his tone.

Ressler never lets us forget that these men are not likeable despite the rapport he has built with them. Even their friendliness is a form of manipulation and control. Nowhere is this more evident than in his discussions with Ed Kemper, the very serial killer Douglas professed to admire. In his account, Ressler describes the graphic (and smiling) threats of violence Kemper made, essentially to watch Ressler squirm. Even behind bars these killers are still dangerous both to those who study them, and on account of those who emulate them and focus on them as celebrities.

This was definitely interesting, but what I've really been looking for is a mix between this book and Mind Hunter - Ressler's less cocky tone with Douglas flair for dramatic narration. Anybody know of one?

Also posted at my blog ( )
  Caramellunacy | Nov 16, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert K. Resslerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shachtman, Tommain authorall editionsconfirmed
Shachtman, Tommain authorall editionsconfirmed
Mariko, AiharaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.—Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
To my close friend and brother-in-law, who during his thirty-three-year police career fought many monsters on the street of Chicago.
Patrolman Frank P. Graszer
Chicago Police Department Badge Number 4614
Served July 13, 1928; Died December 24, 1990.
—Robert K. Kessler
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Russ Vorpagel was a legend in the Bureau, six four and 240 pounds, a former police homicide detective in Milwaukee who also had a law degree and was an expert in sex crimes and bomb demolition.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312950446, Mass Market Paperback)

This book is an overview of the career of the FBI man who nearly single-handedly created the system for personality profiling of violent offenders. If there's a big-time multiple murderer from about 1950 until now who hasn't been interviewed by Robert Ressler, he probably refused the honor. Indispensable reading for serial killer mavens, and better written than John Douglas and Mark Olshaker's Mindhunter, this book is packed with fascinating details from dozens of cases: The killer John Joubert, for example, started his life of cruelty as a kid one day when he was riding his bike with a sharpened pencil in his hand. He rode up next to a little girl who was walking, and stabbed her in the back with the pencil. Ouch!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

TRUE CRIME. Face-to-face with some of America's most terrifying killers, FBI veteran and ex-Army CID colonel Robert Ressler learned from them how to identify the unknown monsters who walk among us-and put them behind bars. Now the man who coined the phrase "serial killer" and advised Thomas Harris on The Silence of the Lambs shows how he has tracked down some of the nation's most brutal murderers. Just as it happened in The Silence of the Lambs, Ressler uses the evidence at a crime scene to put together a psychological profile of the killers. From the victims they choose, to the way they kill, to the often grotesque souvenirs they take with them, Ressler unlocks the identities of these vicious killers for the police to capture. Join Ressler as he takes you on the hunt for America's most dangerous psychopaths. It is a terrifying journey you will not forget.… (more)

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