Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Father's Story” as Want to Read:
A Father's Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Father's Story

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  687 Ratings  ·  106 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Father's Story, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Father's Story

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Bryant
Dec 07, 2009 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
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
Jul 20, 2014 Shaun rated it really liked it
This book presents a rare opportunity to see an evil man, whom most of us dismiss as an abomination, through the eyes of a loving parent.

It's hard enough to wrap one's head around the atrocity known as serial murder, now imagine that that the serial murderer is your son.

Except Lionel Dahmer didn't have to imagine. Instead he had to somehow unify the son he thought he knew and loved with a monster capable of unthinkable acts of violence.

A Father's Story is clearly Lionel Dahmer's attempt to unde
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
May 04, 2009 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People That Feel Too Happy
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
Apr 18, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
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
Jul 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
Apr 29, 2013 Lee Battersby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Antonio De la rosa
Feb 10, 2013 Antonio De la rosa rated it liked it
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
 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
Mar 09, 2008 Flora rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
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
Monzy S
Mar 09, 2011 Monzy S rated it it was amazing
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.

Jamie Brooks
May 24, 2009 Jamie Brooks rated it it was amazing
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.
David Brown
Aug 19, 2012 David Brown rated it it was ok
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
Doris Jean
Jan 16, 2014 Doris Jean rated it did not like it
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
May 06, 2015 Marissa rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 06, 2013 Amy-louise rated it really liked it
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
Willis Morgan
Aug 19, 2015 Willis Morgan rated it it was amazing
A FATHER’S STORY—Lionel Dahmer 1994 by Baramin Group, Inc.
Lionel tells his poignant story of life with his son, Jeff Dahmer.
Michelle Mead
May 17, 2012 Michelle Mead rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 29, 2008 Roy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jul 18, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
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.
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
Tina Edwards
Jul 22, 2007 Tina Edwards rated it it was amazing
Written by Jeffrey Dahmer's father, this is a very touching and interesting book. His father is not exploiting his son's infamous crimes nor is making excuses, really. Parts of it read as an apology and parts of it read as a biography. Even for those not interested in True Crime this is a great book to read just to read about a father that loves his son and is trying to understand what he did. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the way he refers to his son as "Jeff". It feels very much ...more
Cailin Deery
May 10, 2010 Cailin Deery rated it it was ok
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
Katie Rest
Jan 24, 2015 Katie Rest rated it really liked it
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
Kelly Lequeux
May 30, 2015 Kelly Lequeux rated it it was amazing
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
Katie Johnson
Mar 08, 2013 Katie Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 26, 2008 Delilah rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I was fortunate enough to procure this in hardcover when it was released, and I doubt there will be a second run since it wasn't well-received by the media (who I don't think bothered to read it, instead chastising Lionel for trying to capitalize on his son's gruesome crimes). Lionel Dahmer, father of Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey, has left us a poignant and candid memoir facing his own demons and trying to find out what darkness inside of him might have become part of his child. I found it mo ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes true crime
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Lionel Dahmer delves into his own life and psyche and tries to explain to the public and himself how his son Jeffrey Dahmer - the notorious serial killer who was caught and imprisoned in 1991 - turned from loving son to gruesome murderer. He psychoanalyzes himself and tries to pinpoint the traits in himself that turned so wrong in his son. This is the second time that I've read this book and I give it an A+!
Breann McGrath
Feb 23, 2016 Breann McGrath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Given that I love true crime novels, this book here had me totally enthralled. This book was so well written by Jeffs dad. It explains how awkward Jeff was as a little boy and how, as the years passed, he went deeper and deeper inside of himself. He was a troubled kid from the very beginning. This book was sad to read since it was completed by his father, Lionel. It tells of how he feels and how he felt he has failed as a father. This is a must read for anyone who is into true crime!!!
May 30, 2010 Bear rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 18, 2014 Terry rated it it was amazing
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer
  • The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough
  • Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders
  • Lustmord: The Writings and Artifacts of Murderers
  • Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer
  • Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott Peterson Is Guilty
  • Evil Twins: Chilling True Stories of Twins, Killing and Insanity
  • Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
  • Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook
  • Beyond All Reason: My Life With Susan Smith
  • Still Talking
  • The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy
  • Serial Murderers and Their Victims
  • Just Desserts: The Unauthorized Biography of Martha Stewart
  • The Saints and Sinners of Okay County: A Novel
  • Panzram: A Journal of Murder
  • Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell
  • Masquerade

Share This Book

“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.” 1 likes
More quotes…