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Killing for Their Country: A New Look at “Killology”

By Robert Engen - March 14, 2023

Reading Time: 43 min  content from Canadian Military Journal



Over a decade ago, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a former US Army Ranger and military psychologist, published a book entitled On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. This work, along with its recent sequel, On Combat, have established Grossman’s reputation in military law enforcement circles in North America as an expert on the human elements of warfare. Articles expanding and repeating the themes of these books have been published in Christianity Today, the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, and on the Internet. On Killing is required reading at the FBI Academy, and it has been made a part of the curriculum at West Point. Lieutenant Colonel Grossman has been engaged on a number of speaking tours throughout the United States, and has founded his own research group investigating “killology, the scholarly study of the destructive act.” More recently, Grossman’s work has been gaining similar popularity in Canada. He has given several presentations to the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and On Killing has been included in the Canadian Forces Leadership Institute’s 2006 professional studies reading list. Grossman’s On Combat is being prescribed by some members of the Canadian Forces’ leadership as required reading for officers deploying overseas.

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