The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals

Mark Olshaker, Joint Author, John Douglas, Author Scribner Book Company $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-84598-2
A volume of case studies by Douglas, the former chief profiler at the FBI's legendary behavioral sciences unit, and Olshaker has become an annual event, from 1995's Mind Hunter to last year's Obsession. Here, the duo exhume the victims of Andrew Cunanan, Charles Whitman, Theodore Kaczynski and many others for insight into the killers' minds. Douglas's formula is deceptively simple: ""WHY? + HOW? = WHO."" But since serial killers are rarely caught through profiling, the formula is better expressed as ""WHO + HOW = WHY."" Douglas is tops in the field. He was among the first to suggest that the Atlanta child murderer was African-American, and he delivered a dead-on profile of Scottish mass-murderer Thomas Watt Hamilton on live TV based on preliminary news accounts. Still, most of what's here will be familiar to readers of other profiling books: the lonely white male with an obsessive sense of his own failure who tortured animals, wet his bed and played with matches as a child. Though Douglas promises to explain the differences among bombers, arsonists, shooters, cutters and stranglers, his profiles too often cleave to predictable, reductive formulations. Both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby are characterized as ""paranoid losers""; Timothy McVeigh is ""a scrawny, pissed-off young hick."" As always, Douglas and Olshaker deliver an entertaining read, but fewer case studies presented with more depth would better inform and educate the amateur profiler. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 471 pages - 978-1-56895-926-9
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-684-85779-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 413 pages - 978-0-671-02393-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next