Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (Anglais) Poche – 1 août 1996
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During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life.
As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves.
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D'un point de vue plus cartesien on à l'impression que nous retombons pourtant dans presque tout les stereotypes véhiculés par la tv : les serials killers sont intelligents, froids, manipulateurs et il faut être bien plus malin qu'eux pour les attraper. Ce livre donne beaucoup d'infos sur les serial killers mais aussi sur le fbi et le departement des sciences humaines. Un bon livre qui se lit comme un roman.
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The book starts off with Douglas' early life, entry into the FBI, and the struggles he endured to get profiling on the map. Then, Douglas procedes in showing the reader how success in famous cases thereafter solidified profiling as a real, if somewhat imperfect, science. Douglas goes case by case, pointing out what he looks for in determining the type of killer responsible, and the clues needed to single out the offender.
If you are interested in profiling, John Douglas will show you how he and others like him have done it for years. Unlike the previous reviewer stated, Douglas DOES show you how a trained professional would profile a criminal, but the reader should not expect to be able to profile someone themselves because it takes years of experience and training. He shows the reader what type of physical and behavioral evidence he looks for when creating a profile. In one chapter, he even decides to take you step by step in detail on how he developed a profile for a killer.
Profiling is a behavioral science technique and while Douglas integrates psychological theory, it does not get at all technical or something that the reader will not understand. Douglas and Olshaker made sure this was a book that anyone could read.
John Douglas covers a lot of cases in this book and while they may not be detailed to every piece of evidence in the case, the book overall succeeds in showing the reader how the cases were solved, a general idea of FBI life, profiling, and the criminal mind.
...And no, as explained in Douglas' books, serial killers or others cannot read this book and come up with a way to get away with murder... an attempt by a killer to use this sort of tactic would just implicate him further by blatent behavioral cues, as explained.
If you like this book, I would definitely recommend any of John Douglas and Mark Olshaker's books.
John Douglas is a very scary man. He's someone who has seen far too many horrific crimes, such that they affect him personally-when his kids scrape their knees, Douglas recounts tales of children torn in half by a murderer. When his wife cuts her finger with a kitchen knife, he points out how the spatter pattern would tell a story about what happened. Ultimately, this sort of exposure leads to a divorce and Douglas is upfront about the damage his profession did to his job.
The book starts out with Douglas in the hospital, the victim of being overworked and without enough manpower to help him. Near death, he recounts the creation of the ESCU and his struggles in making the profiling of serial killers (he invented the term) a legitimate profession. But it does not go into much detail as to how the ESCU works. In fact, it's more about Douglas and about the murderers themselves.
And what a ghastly rogues gallery it is! We have serial killers who invent vigilante groups to cover their tracks, we have killers who like to fly prostitutes out to woodlands and then hunt them down like deer, killers who believe God is telling them to kill people, and killers who strangle, rape, drown, and stab.
I read "Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies" at the same time and found an odd juxtaposition between the two books. Legacy of Blood states that the comfort of slasher flicks is that the bad guy is easily recognized by his disgusting appearance and his sudden attacks, when in reality serial killers often look like normal people and torture their victims for hours.
Not true, according to Mindhunter. Indeed, many of the killers are degenerate slimeballs, incapable of social contact and forced to use blitz-style attacks against the weak and helpless because of their inadequacies. Many have severe stutters, bad acne, or some other disfigurement. Nearly all have been abused in some fashion by their parents.
By now, the serial killer traits are well known: bed wetting, fire starting, and torturing small animals. But Douglas makes it clear that in every case, it's the child's upbringing that so horribly warps them to a life of murder. There are no strong role models to stop these children from turning into monsters; indeed, when children fall into the cracks, serial killers are what sometimes crawl out of them.
Unfortunately, exactly how Douglas comes to his conclusions is a lot like magic. Despite all of his attempts to legitimize what he does, his efforts amount to "and then magic happens!" Then Douglas comes up with a startling accurate profile. He never lets us know when he's wrong. That's a minor quibble with a book that I couldn't put down.
Mindhunter is as much a cautionary tale as it is a woeful biography of Douglas' life. Only one of the victims actually manages to turn the tables on their assailant. And in just about every other case, the killers were on murder sprees that lasted years with dozens of victims. As Douglas puts it, "sometimes the dragon wins."
As an author, this book gave me a host of ideas on how the good guys and the bad guys work. As a citizen of the United States, it gave me a new appreciation for the FBI. As a husband, it gave me a healthy regard for the mentally disturbed. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how to spot the dragons before they hatch.
John's other biographical stories help illustrate how diffcult life inside the FBI can be. The list of victims in a murder isn't limited to the one murdered; they include the family, neighbors, friends, investigators working a case and Federal law enforcement officers and their families. Anyone considering a career in law enforcement or with the Bureau, should take this into consideration before signing on.
In the context of writing, there are two ways to tell a story; telling vs showing. Mark and John chose to write this book by showing the reader how profiles are constructed. No, you won't find a step-by-step instruction manual within these pages, but you will find the method fully illustrated. An example is the Trailside Killer profile. Carpenter approached his victims in isolated areas and used a blitz attack from the rear to disable them. John Douglas wondered why and took the reader through the steps; the killer didn't attempt to lure or trick his victims as had Bundy. Instead, the killer felt the need to take the victims by surprise even in isolated areas of Tamalpais Park. This told John the killer felt awkward, possibly had a handicap. A physical impairment or disfigurement would have been noticed by others in the park at the time of the murders. That left a speech impediment. The rest of the reasoning behind the profile is detailed quite clearly.
John's methods aren't magic but a result of years of studying human nature, a creative way of thinking about a problem and a background based on intensive interviews with hundreds of convicted killers.
Ego plays a large part in the life of any law enforcement officer. Had John Douglas or Robert Ressler, or Roy Hazelwood spoken to police departments in an unsure manner, would any of those agencies have paid attention? That confidence carries over into real life and to the written word.
For those seeking an inside look at the FBI, there are other books available. Mindhunter, however, is the story of the FBI's first profilers (All of them, not just Douglas) and a look at the Behavioral Science Unit.
Mindhunter, along with John's other books co-authored with Mark Olshaker, show the impact of murder on those closest to the crimes --the families and loved ones. John Douglas' caring for the surviving victims shines from every page in which he talks about that impact, the friendships formed through tragedy, the advocacy of victim's rights and his push to have VICAP become mandatory.
If I could give a higher rating, I would rate Mindhunter a 10.
I have been a fan of Mr. Douglas for many many years and have read all his books. When you read this book, you will appreciate the physical and mental anguish he must have endured to hone his craft as a world renowned profiler.
This book is well written, with great detail, and captivating to the last word. The crimes that the author wrote about are gruesome, sad but true. He paints a vivid picture of the inside of the BSU in the FBI. He interviewed the most notorious and ruthless serial killers the world has ever seen and spent hundreds of hours picking their brains.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in true crime, serial killers and the FBI.
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