They usually start out as ordinary people, doing their best to deal with mixed messages in a complex world. What they don't realize is that they may be the target of a violent system that is building an obedient workforce. One day they're enjoying a few laughs with buddies, and seemingly the next day, they wake up as human killing machines. And they allowed it to happen. Addressing one of the most serious threats to the world today, Human Killing Machines applies the model of systematic indoctrination to case studies of brutality in Iran, Nazi Germany, Al Qaeda, and Abu Ghraib. The book reveals how these transformations take place-how systems redefine morality to turn ordinary people into torturers, terrorists, and genocidal killers. Analyzing the key differences between these cases also helps to identify the safeguards which limit violence. Lankford demonstrates the weaknesses of indoctrination, the ways heroic individuals have resisted its influence, and the potential for countermeasures. Based on these examples, he offers recommendations for how we can begin to reform the U.S. military and increase its accountability, reduce Al Qaeda terrorists' commitment to their missions, and spark an awakening in Iran so that the oppressive regime goes out with a whimper-not with a bang.
This book is a must read. It should be required reading for all police officers. Hopefully, by understanding the process of systematic indoctrination, as so aptly described by Adam Lankford, those entrusted with the power of the state will mightily resist any pull towards acts of unredeemable violence. -- Drew Diamond, Chief of Police (Ret.), Tulsa, OK Adam Lankford's well-written and provocative new book ... delivers a behavioral model that goes a long way toward explaining otherwise inexplicably inhuman actions by 'normal' human beings. The reader need not agree with every one of Lankford's observations to recognize his insightfulness and the utility of his work for both scholars and practitioners. Human Killing Machines is 'must-reading' for soldiers, diplomats, and political leaders of democratic countries as well as academics in the social sciences, international relations, and criminal justice. -- John T. Fishel, Ph.D., College of International Studie, The University of Oklahoma, author and editor of The Savage Wars of Peace and co-author of Uncomfortable Wars Revisited Human Killing Machines is a work of diligent scholarship marked by skillful exposition and compelling prose. This book deals with issues that matter to our way of life and sheds light on how we might better understand and ameliorate the potential for violence, including catastrophic violence, that dogs the modern world. -- Robert Johnson, American University Lankford's Human Killing Machines is a splendid interdisciplinary effort sure to interest casual readers, sociologists, political scientists, criminal justice scholars, and Homeland Security experts alike... Lankford persuasively reminds us that legal, moral and ethical behavior will not always be the norm across each culture or in each setting. The 'psychology of evil' and indoctrinated violence will continue to present daunting challenges to those that preserve, protect, and promote discipline, law, order and well-being. Homeland Security Review