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Ceremonial Violence

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
?A chilling, insightful look at school shootings.? ?"Booklist"
"Ceremonial Violence" analyzes thirteen school ?rampage? shootings?including the Columbine High School massacre?and explains, for the first time, why teenagers commit these tragic atrocities. With his grasp of the elements of abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, sociology, and neurology that contribu
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by The Overlook Press (first published September 4th 2008)
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Nov 17, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It serves a purpose that hadn't been brought up until its existence and I haven't seen replicated since. It gives a good solid psychological analysis that may or may not be correct, as is any analysis. However, it does show a few arguments and brings up points about different cases that I haven't seen brought up elsewhere.
Kye Alfred Hillig
Oct 13, 2009 Kye Alfred Hillig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book for the reasons that I believe the author enjoyed writing it, which is that he has a morbid curiosity about school shootings. The psychological spin that this book was supposed to be given seems like a weak sauce excuse to show information about a strange occurrence rather than some sort of detached explanation of them so they can be prevented.
The reason I gave this book four stars is because when Jonathan Fast describes the shootings they are very well written and that maca
Better than Brooks, but not as good as Cullen, IMO.
I have to admit that I held this guy to a higher standard, because he's an academic. That said, I think the book lacked a compelling thesis. The case histories are interesting, and very detailed. I learned more about the shootings other than Columbine, but reading the Harris / Klebold chapter didn't really teach me anything new, beyond that fact that Fast believes that Harris' unusual check structure may have made him a target for ridicule and b
Oct 10, 2008 Overlook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ceremonial Violence analyzes the Columbine high school shooting and four other cases and explains for the first time why teenagers commit school rampage shootings. These cases include: Brenda Spencer, 16, who after shooting at elementary school children for no apparent reason explained to a reporter: “I hate Mondays.” Wayne Lo, 18, a brilliant Taiwanese student and violin prodigy who embraced white supremacist rhetoric. One night he stalked the campus of Simon’s Rock College with a semi-automati ...more
May 22, 2016 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to read the recap of a handful of school shootings, especially the sixteen year old girl who shot shot up people in the school across the street while chatting with police on the phone. Fast's thesis is not very profound: kids that don't fit in (have a bad match with home, school, society) and especially those who are bullied may get depressed and suicidal. If they also want revenge, they may plan a suicidal ceremony. Having similarly motivated friends can lead to more extensi ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast's theory of ceremonial violence is interesting, well thought-out, and well-researched; however, the editing of this book is so poor, it became a significant distraction. Typos, grammatical errors, and similar editing issues are found in every chapter. True, they are a pet peeve of mine (SpellCheck has a lot to answer for), but annoying as such mistakes are in fiction, they're worse in a scholarly work such as Fast's.

That aside, this is an excellent examination of the phenomenon of school ra
David Ward
Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation of School Shootings by Jonathan Fast (PhD – Professor of Social Work at Yeshiva University) (The Overlook Press 2008) (371.782). This book was a bit ahead of its time. Among other things, it recites and presents much case study info on the early school shootings: Jonesboro, Arkansas (Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden), Pearl, Miss (Luke Woodham), Springfield, Oregon (Kip Kinkel), and Littleton, Colorado (Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris). Absolutely ...more
Aug 05, 2016 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting stuff. does a good job at mapping out the before, during & after of each event, and delves into the psychological and environmental stressors that contribute to SR shootings. made some good points about bullying and gun control (if not anything all that revolutionary), but could've gone more in-depth into other preventative measures concerning children at risk of committing acts of extreme violence.
Jun 02, 2013 Dona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a decent book about rampage shooters, but I don't think it should have been titled Ceremonial Violence. I was expecting the author to parallel rituals from early and/or tribal cultures to present day school shootings--using archetypes and psychology. Instead, he provides detailed (and interesting) case histories of recent school shooters--although the case histories are missing what Langman's book provides, detailed psychological reports on the shooters.
Andy Hickman
Bullying has become a major life-crisis in most families as it creates tremendous anxiety. Its seriousness has become more pronounced in recent times with increases in child and youth suicide (labelled “bully-cide”) and long-term devastating effects. Many victims become revengeful leading to horrific retaliations.

Jonathan Fast, Ceremonial Violence: Understanding Columbine and Other School Rampage Shootings (New York: The Overlook Press, 2008), 13, 35.
Mar 19, 2009 tami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a bit disturbing, but I felt more of a relief knowing the common steps that these shooters took before they opened fire in their schools. I prefer to know rather than fear the unknown. Towards the back is a plan that has had success in putting bullies out on the table, so to speak. I considered pushing the school system here to implement this program, and heading it up...but pulled my bullied son out of their school instead. Priorities...
Jan 10, 2013 Alexia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was well researched and clearly written. Time is taken to present multiple explanations, making the theories closer to what happens in actuality (that there is no one true cause for school shootings). My only criticism of the book comes when it is retelling the events surrounding the shootings, the way they are told makes it feel a little more like a collection of stories than evidence that supports a theory.
Mar 03, 2011 Victoria-Lynn rated it liked it
This book gives a detailed look into the minds of school shooters. It uses real occurances to help show the thought process. I liked this book and found it really informative but it also focused mostly if not completly on cases from the United States. More international examples would have been nice.
Dec 06, 2012 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a more poorly written book before. There are numerous grammatical errors and careless mistakes. I discovered that several things he says about the Columbine shooters are terribly inaccurate. I assumed to use this book as a reference for a psychology research paper, but will not do so now. It's just plain ridiculous, actually most parts made me laugh at how inaccurate it is.
Alisa Kester
Really great book if you want to begin to understand why someone would go on a rampage shooting. There's not a heck of a lot of new information here, but it's well presented, and thought-provoking. I appreciated that it was also empathic to the shooters themselves. These kids are not psychopaths or "born evil", regardless of what some would like to believe.
Mr. Crusader
Feb 01, 2013 Mr. Crusader rated it it was amazing
Particularly in the light of recent events, this book provides an excellent professional analysis of the dynamics involved in mass shootings.

Very disturbing, but educational. A must read for anyone who wants to engage with others in a meaningful debate regarding reasonable gun reform laws!
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
Fascinating look at school shootings from a psychological perspective. My one complaint is that at times the author's perspective seemed a little skewed. I prefer that scholarly works stay unbiased.
This book has the most detailed accounts of a variety of school shootings that I have ever seen. I wish the author would spend less time on his anti-gun diatribe and more time offering some real solutions.
So far very, very disturbing. I found it at the public library, and it's a more academic (so far) study of school shootings. Maybe it's because the perpetrators and most of the victims are children, but this is more disturbing than books I've read about serial killers.
Laraine Ryan
Nov 23, 2014 Laraine Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable, though the theory didn't seem to be fleshed out very well, though it's in the title.
Mar 22, 2016 Colleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An overview of a handful of school shootings without much analysis or depth. A "psychological explanation of school shootings" it is most definitely not.
Sep 27, 2008 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting for a book like this to come out for years. I couldn't put it down, and then I couldn't sleep.
Daniel DeLappe
Jun 06, 2009 Daniel DeLappe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read but a bit technical in parts. Never really got deep into what brings this behavior about. There really is no one reason and no excuse.
Jonathan Fast
Jonathan Fast rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2013
Kireja rated it liked it
Jul 09, 2015
Anne rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2008
Jessica rated it really liked it
Mar 27, 2010
eugine bazzaroff
eugine bazzaroff rated it did not like it
Jun 26, 2013
Stephanie Rollins
Stephanie Rollins rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2016
Bobbie M.
Bobbie M. rated it liked it
Apr 21, 2013
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