Predators: Who They Are And How To Stop Them, by Gregory M. Cooper & Michael R. King with Thomas McHoes
Reading a book like this, apart from its subject matter, is a fascinating experience for a variety of reasons. For one, this book is written from the point of view of FBI agents who made it their mission to target the violent abusers of people and who have a surprisingly shrewd view of domestic paramilitary groups who they praise for their desire to protect the innocent. Likewise, the authors of this book prove themselves to be rather keen on understanding the mind of a predator and also on making oneself less of a potential target. The authors note how predators tend to target the poor and insecure and the isolated, and the authors’ advice on making oneself a harder target by at least presenting that one is not so alone after all and by making it clear that you would scream and make a scene. If this book is intensely practical, and it is, and it is written with a distinct voice that lacks sentimentality, it is a book with a clear practical aim when it comes to encouraging people to make themselves less of a target in the hope of discouraging and deflecting would-be predators as much as possible. And that is a worthy aim.
This book is about 300 pages long or so and is divided into nine fairly large chapters. The book begins with a foreword by John Douglas. After that comes an introduction that discusses the credibility of the authors to write about predators based on their experiences. After that the authors discuss victimology and the way that predators think as a way of making it possible to put oneself less at risk (1). Then comes a discussion of there always being a story besides why someone committed a crime against a particular victim (2). The authors then discuss the horror of crime against children (3) before moving through a variety of categories. Indeed, the book as it whole appears to be organized on the principle that one can look at the motivations that lead people to commit certain crimes, be it terrorism (4), crimes against the elderly (5), sexual assault (6), domestic violence (7), and kidnapping (8), followed by the homicidal predator (9). After all of this unpleasant reading about the mind of criminals and how they seek to cover for their own insecurity and resentment through attacking the weak and vulnerable, the authors decide to end with planning on having a happy ending in the conclusion and then finishing with the usual index.
Beyond the worth of this book in general as was written by the authors, the particular copy of the book I read offered additional pleasures, in that previous readers of the book added some colorful commentary on some of the statements in the book. Not all of this commentary is fit to repeat in polite company, but it did make for a hilarious reading experience where one was not only reading what the authors had to say–which was frequently provocative–as well as reading the provocative replies that other not very sympathetic readers had in mind. Considering that the comments I read including wishes that predators would have killed themselves and praise for an abusive mother who did just that, one can recognize that this book is capable of stirring some strong reactions among its readers. Predators are not very popular people, and the authors’ recognition that a great deal of such people are bullied and excluded gives a certain poignant touch to the authors’ advice to befriend those who are outsiders before things get more drastic and unpleasant for those who are called to account for their social sins. This is a complex work that is worth reading, even if the authors come off at times like hard-boiled detectives.