American criminologist Robert K. Ressler served for the United States Army and that country’s Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ressler explains his career in the book he wrote with Tom Shachtman, namely Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI. Whoever Fights Monsters offers insight into the real life formation of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. It was Ressler‘s work in the formation of this unit as well as the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) that, along with the methodology and thinking behind those programs, that interested me in the Whoever Fights Monsters book.
(Robert K. Ressler, left, and Tom Shachtman, right)
Ressler described his work in contributing to the formation of the BSU, which in part started with the thinking that helped coin the term serial killer. (The definition from Psychology Today is included in the link contained in the previous sentence). Much of that psychology is performed based forensic analysis of crime scenes, the evidence gathered at those scenes, and the collected wisdom of the thinking of criminals in the past. Beyond this means of making cases against criminals, much of what fascinated me in reading this book was the interviewing of convicted serial killers in gaining insight into what makes those that have committed crimes tick.
(Friedrich Nietzsche‘s warning to interviewers)
The insight of dividing criminals into organized, disorganized, or those that switch between default forms was intellectually interesting. The subject matter was rather dark, and certainly not for everyone. The Thomas Harris book (and subsequent movie) The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by information sharing that Ressler briefly described in Whoever Fights Monsters. The television series Criminal Minds on the American Broadcasting Corporation in the United States also owes something to the methodologies of the BSU.
Perhaps my timing in reading this book during the fall was inspired by the autumn season. The diminishing hours of daylight each day played their inspiring role. That Halloween would soon be approaching with the return to standard time rather than daylight savings time also played a role. I give Whoever Fights Monsters 3.5-stars out of 5.
Matt – Sunday, November 5, 2017