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A Father's Story

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  491 ratings  ·  77 reviews
On July 23, 1991, Milwaukee chemist Lionel Dahmer discovered - along with the rest of the world - that his son Jeffrey was a murderer who, over a period of many years, had carried out some of the most ghastly crimes ever committed in the United States. These crimes were so grisly that for a time Dahmer entered a world of complete denial - first convinced that Jeff was inno ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by William Morrow & Co
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,263)
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Paul Bryant
This is a very difficult meditation on blame and a dignified, moving and quite riveting exercise in soul-bearing and self-laceration by a stoic harshly condemning his own stoicism and trying with his scientist’s rationalism to be even-handed whilst facing the hardest question : how did this human being, your son – who you were entrusted with - go so wrong? Lionel Dahmer comes up with at least four suggestions, all inadequate.

I found out that after this book was published that Joyce Dahmer, Jeffr
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
The most interesting and emotionally challenging book I read during my bygone period of fascination with the sorts of issues that delve into the supremely dark sewers of human nature -- and serial killers certainly fit and (greatly define) the bill.

It's heartbreaking and of course covers all the obvious and familiar terrain of how gut-wrenchingly awful Dahmer's crimes were, but with an added twist (i.e. his father is writing it) differentiating it from the standard true crime genre narrative. T
...more
Hannah
Every parent knows this one unavoidable truth: worry comes with joy when we look at our children. We worry when they are little; Is that cough the flu? Is that rash chicken pox, or something worse? When they go to school, we worry how they will act in the broader world opening up to them; Are they ready and eager to learn? Will they be kind and respectful of others? As they mature different worries appear to replace the old ones; Will someone break their heart? Will they do something stupid and ...more
Andrew Bourne
Aug 12, 2008 Andrew Bourne added it
Recommended to Andrew by: Vincent Zompa
Under what criteria can this book be judged? I’ve decided that it cannot be, or at least I cannot—-and certainly yellow stars are inappropriate. Is there a comparative piece of writing? Perhaps the only thing more idiosyncratic than the crimes Jeffrey Dahmer committed is this curious analysis by his father, which is more autobiography than criminology or portraiture. If it is sensationalism (like so many other books about serial murder), then he certainly has a bizarre method for doing so; if it ...more
Lee Battersby
Jeffrey Dahmer will long be remembered as one of the most gruesome and appalling serial killers of all time. But if there was any hope that the reader might gain any insight into his mental makeup by reading this memoir, by the man who should have known him better than any other, it is quickly dashed.

Lionel Dahmer reveals himself as a cold, emotionally distant father and husband who's greatest influence upon his oldest son seems to have been to create an atmosphere of such utter disregard and di
...more
Monzy S
This is one of the most underrated and rarest books, it took me forever and great effort to find it but it was well worth it.

Lionel Dahmer shares his and his son's tragic and sad story and provides some theories on why his son came to be a pedophile and necrophiliac monster, you could sense while you're reading the book that he's in unbelievable mental anguish, guilt ridden, blaming him self for it and his wife and struggling to make sense of what happened and trying to rationalize it.

Amazing
...more
David Brown
An important but unfortunately poorly written work.

When serial killers are apprehended, we hear all about their crimes and the horrible acts they committed. And to a lesser extent, we are get a sense of the victims and their families, but very rarely do we ever hear from the family members of the killers and what they must go through as they are often turned into pariahs for what their children/siblings did. This makes Lionel Dahmer's book A Father's Story such an important work. However, as Da
...more
Roy
I found this book to be quite fascinating. How does it feel to be the father of a monster? It's not as if Jeffrey Dahmer turned out as he did because his parents tortured or molested or abused him. His childhood upbringing was not especially different than that of the average person. This leaves his father to torture himself over signs and clues he surely must have missed, and to wonder precisely how much of a part he played in the formation of someone who grew up to become a serial killer and c ...more
Antonio De la rosa
I didn't know who Jeffrey Dahmer was. I only knew that this was a book by a father over his son, a serial killer. As a father I was compelled to read this book. It was partly because of the morbid curiosity about a nightmare that feels so very far away and yet so vivid: the unstoppable process of utter damnation of your child. Partly because one always wants to find answers, even when the formulated questions are so impossible. What I take out of this book is something geometrical.... we are the ...more
Emily
Okay -- I make no apologies for reading a lot of "true crime," but let me just say that this particular book stands out from the crowd. One would assume that Lionel Dahmer wrote (or did not write) this book either to capitalize on or atone for his son's crimes ("I Was Jeff Dahmer's Dad!"); what's unexpected is the candor, humility, and thoughtfulness of his account, and the little ways in which its genuine strangeness bypasses "shock value." (His descriptions of his own childhood pyromania are p ...more
Marissa
I read this book in one afternoon, finding it impossible to put down once I started. I was shocked to find Lionel Dahmer's writing so compulsively readable, well-written, and hauntingly open. I cannot imagine what it took to examine all of his own inner demons, to analyze them and dissect them, in the hopes of being able to understand the horrifying actions of his son. I find it abominable that people can be so hateful to parents of murderers, especially parents like the Dahmer's who, like so ma ...more
Jamie Brooks
I can't even describe how interesting this book was. Maybe it's because secretly I am a sicko who wants to know more about the minds of serial killers and their families. Once I started reading this I could not put it down, it was just that good. You could tell how much Lionel loved his sonand how heart broken he was when he found out about Jeffrey's secret life. I highly reccomend this book.
Susan
This was a very disturbing read because the father seems so normal, the family seems dysfunctional, but not exceptionally so, and yet I had to feel that something is missing in the story. What Dahmer did was so extreme. So I'm not sure how reliable this narrator is. But for anyone who writes or reads mysteries, it's fascinating material.
Doris Jean
Feb 18, 2014 Doris Jean rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: only those who would study manipulation and psychology of filth and slime.
I did not like the book because I did not like Lionel. There were flashes of attempted sincerity, but overall I felt he wanted me to think him a hero and was manipulating the book even to the point of confessing his own arson and his high-school bombing that had not been discovered so that I would approve of him. I do not. There were signs he should have seen but he denies them. I thought he wanted to blame the mother Joyce, who no doubt was mentally unbalanced also. Lionel seems to me to be a p ...more
Cailin Deery
Very little of this book has to do with the crimes; it’s just a parent coming to terms with the person their child has become so: depressing. Lionel Dahmer’s perspective on his son is analytical and part biography, part admission. It’s the output of a parent worried that they’re partly to blame for their child’s behavior. He seeks out evidence from his own adolescence that he might have had the potential to take a dark turn like his son. He says, “I have come to believe that some of the compulsi ...more
Amy-louise
Jeff has always has a uncomfortable hold over me, I am fascinated by the human psyche and just how far the rabbit hole goes. That saying I do not condone ANYTHING he did, but as humans we do have a a little bit of a sick undercurrent, slowing down at accident scenes, a interest in our own demise! Anyway I digress! I was looking for this book for a long long time and was absolutely delighted when I picked it up in a second hand shop for 25p!! I have read a lot if literature pertaining to Jeff's c ...more
Michelle Mead
This is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read. Lionel Dahmer was the father of Geoffry Dahmer who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. His voice in this book is a very honest and human one (in stark contrast to the typically sensational tone associated with these kinds of crime stories) - it is the voice of a father trying to make sense of what caused his son's insanity and its horrific repercussions, and of a man who dearly loved his son, in spite of his struggle to ...more
Sara
I had high hopes for this book, but was very disappointed as the father just kept finding any old excuse to say that he's son was innocent especially when there were tell tale signs of Jeffrey's guilt, was poorly written :(
Katie Johnson
A short but soul-baring and painful examination of parental failures and now, second-guesses as to what could have been done differently, from Jeffrey Dahmer's father. Every parent should read, just because of his admonition at the end about holding your children close. It took incredible courage for Lionel to write this and obviously was at complete odds with his own character to do so. He searches his son's history, his former wife's mental illness, and examines his own attitudes and actions a ...more
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*
It is so sad that Jeffery ' s father feels so much remorse for what his son did. I can't begin to imagine the nightmare that has become of this man's life after his son committed such gruesome crimes. Throughout the book Mr. Dahmer questions himself if he should have known what his son was up to and tries to figure out if there were signs in Jeffreys childhood that he was disturbed.
Many books have been written about this serial killer but only his father can give an internal insight on the kill
...more
Charity
I'm not typically a HUGE "true crime" fan but I do occasionally find myself picking one up. Since Jeffrey Dahmer was local and I remember the news coming out, the trial, etc., I wanted to read this. Because I knew his dad was an academic, I was also interested in his views and how he would construct them. *His writing reminds me of what you'd expect to find in academic journals; I really enjoyed his style.

First, Lionel Dahmer makes no excuses for his son and often shares his obvious sympathy fo
...more
Terry
This book really had a surprise story to it. I have to say that this book was a sad story of how a father of a notorious killer seemed to blame himself for how his son became who he was.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in true crime as it gives an insight into the other side of how family's are affected by their children's evil ways.
Enka-Candler Library
Never sensationalizing his son's crimes, most of the time Lionel Dahmer comes across as sincere and even dignified. Even when exploring the darkness within himself, he seems so ... normal.

He recognizes his detachment from Jeff over the course of Jeff's life and his devotion to his youngest son David. Lionel is penitent of this disparity of affection.

At times the book seems not an ode to fatherhood, but a tribute to Lionel's second wife who had to endure the dysfunction of Lionel's family and J
...more
Bear
One of the most interesting, heart-breaking and terrifying things I ever read. Little needs to be said other than this book brings you insight into the life of a purely evil individual through the eyes of his father -- a father who must reconcile the love he has for his son with the guilt he feels for all the lives lost. Read it.
Alshia Moyez
I really liked the story (not the Jeffrey Dahmer aspect but thefather's take on this). We go through this whole thing again but from Lionel Dahmer's perspective, so we're kept in the dark when we already know what happened. But it was still really interesting, at least to me. I never got bored with this book.
Kelly
I absolutely LOVED this book. It's really informative and you truly get to know Lionel Dahmer's feelings and emotions about the whole thing.
For the ones who -including myself- , already know a lot about the Dahmer case: you won't discover new facts about how/why Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his victims, but you'll get a detailed vision on his youth and how his father dealt with it.
It's well written, I got the feeling that I was actually re-living the whole situation along with Lionel's memories.

I rec
...more
Jeanette
Having read a few books about Jeffrey Dahmer, I happen to came across 'A Father's Story' in the local charity shop. My heart goes out to Lionel Dahmer, who was obviously a very caring man and loved his family. Recommended.
Sharon
Jan 24, 2014 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fathers
Recommended to Sharon by: A reference i a parenting book
This book was referenced in a parenting book, I'm not sure which parenting book but it piqued my curiosity. The story is the account of the father of Jeffery Dahmer. It is not so much a grisly account of the actions of his son as it is the journey of introspection that Lionel Dahmer went through as he tried to make sense of what his son had become and to understand what part he had played in his demise. I felt it an honest account. It is not sensational. It is a sobering story and I think there ...more
Neely Metz
Have you ever wanted to get a closer look at the childhood years of a serial killer? In Lionel Dahmers biography, A Fathers Story, Lionel digs deep into his son, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's, childhood and adulthood, recounting each and every experience that occurred. Throughout the book, he describes occurrances in his childhood that may have effected Jeffrey's horrific actions in the future. A new side of Jeffrey that no one has seen before is revealed, and gets people thinking about the eff ...more
Katie Rest
This was a really fascinating read. It delves into Jeff's childhood and provides his father's thoughts as to why he did what he did. You can see a man who really tries to help his son as best he can throughout his adolescence and early adult life, but seems to fall short. Jeff seems lost and unable to find his way. When things start to look up, he falls again. Lionel seems to blame himself somewhat, thinking he could have done more. But hindsight is usually 20/20. It truly made me feel so sad fo ...more
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“There were the things he used to sustain life: a box of fish food. And the things he'd used to take it: a pair of nickel-plated handcuffs.” 0 likes
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