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On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace
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On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,089 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
On Combat looks at what happens to the human body under the stresses of deadly battle ? the impact on the nervous system, heart, breathing, visual and auditory perception, memory - then discusses new research findings as to what measures warriors can take to prevent such debilitations so they can stay in the fight, survive, and win. A brief, but insightful look at history ...more
Paperback, 2nd Edition, 395 pages
Published September 2004 by PPCT Research Publications
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Jun 29, 2011 Charlie rated it it was ok
I doubt that anyone really reads or cares about the Tags we label our good books within (you know fiction or non fiction etc) so I mention that I placed this work in "pop-academic" even though technically it may be found in your University library and not at your local library. But it is to me a good example of bad research writing. The author states his credentials within the text and he does so in bad taste. His text lacks notations where they might really be supportive, maybe even needed to ...more
Gordon Alley
Sep 21, 2015 Gordon Alley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read book for everyone. The author categorizes each person as either a wolf, sheep, or sheepdog. The wolf preys on the sheep; the sheep are under the protection of the sheepdog and victimized by the wolf; the sheepdog protects the sheep from the wolf and keeps the predator behaving uprightly due to his presence. Most sheep have a hard time accepting the sheepdog but are thankful for them and will hide behind them when the wolf shows up. One easy way to find out whether or not you are a ...more
Scott Sigler
As I have never served in the armed forces, as a police officer, or had to use lethal force in self-defense in any encounter, I'm probably missing the real benefit of this book. Col. Grossman is exhaustive in his approach to helping those to protect us. I would guess that any cop/vet/serviceperson would get more benefit from this book than I did, and I got quite a lot.

For fiction writers, this is a wonderful book that helps get into the mind of people who use lethal force. The reality of combat
Nicholas Maulucci
Jul 13, 2014 Nicholas Maulucci rated it really liked it
WOW! in-depth. well-researched. now this is a book. not to mention the provocative subject matter. elegantly written. just the right amount of quotes. just the right amount of anecdotes. just the right amount of philosophy. just the right amount of instruction. just the right amount of heart. no lulls in book. masterfully written. thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in the genius of this excellent author. I recommend this book to men everywhere in every profession. I recommend this book to women ...more
Sep 19, 2011 James rated it really liked it
As I mentioned before in my review of "On Killing", I think that Colonel Grossman is an excellent theorist. This book presents an interesting account of how combat stress develops and identifies a number of moderating and mediating variables. It also provides an excellent account of what it is actually like for a soldier or peace officer to engage in combat, including cognitive, emotional, and moral consequences. These accounts are based on what seem to be hundreds of hours of interviews and ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, martial
All the information police, soldiers and other warriors have been missing for over fifty years is right here in this solid volume.

Lt Col Grossman and Loren Christensen put it all together. They've created terms we did not know we needed, for things we didn't even know occurred. Grossman has a cute but very apt description of the function of the midbrain, fulfilled by 'the puppy,' as he calls it. He calls fear of human violence the 'universal phobia,' and tells you why it's universal. He gives a
Jul 11, 2010 Kira rated it really liked it
Don't let the title fool you. This isn't a book encouraging people to be violent and it's written for everyone - not just our police and military (though it should be mandatory reading for them). It's mainly about the physiological response to violence so covered a lot of the same material as "The Boy who was raised as a dog", though you wouldn't think so to compare the titles. A really interesting and thought-provoking read.
Feb 17, 2008 Jacob rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2012 Carly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
While the main audiance of this book might be designed to be police officers or those in the armed forces, it was a very interesting read from any perspective.

A few of the chapters go into detail into the effect of video games on children (as well as TV and movies). This was really fascinating to read because talking to my students, I can see how much they love those games, and while I never thought highly of them, I may also have underminded their importance (or destructiveness, as it were) on
Sep 17, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. I'm not military or law enforcement, but have a lot of friends that are and was recommended this book. Well researched book that also gives everyone simple, effective ways to cope and recover from life threatening situations.
Dawn Jayne
Sep 25, 2012 Dawn Jayne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book on the psychology of war and combat. My husband is a police officer and heard Dave Grossman speak here in Indianapolis. He was very impressed, and purchased a CD of the lecture. I popped it in one day, and was riveted. My husband also purchased one of his books at the lecture, and I devoured that, as well, and went on to buy this book soon thereafter.

I'm a Marine Corps veteran, and married to a cop, so a great deal of the subjects touched on things that hold a personal interest to
Aaron Thompson
Jul 29, 2015 Aaron Thompson rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Yet another book that has been relegated to the DNF file. If I had wanted to read On Killing again, I would have picked up a copy of On Killing and read it again. I made it 75 pages in, and none of the information in On Combat was anything new. Also, I'm fairly certain Shakespeare (you know, the guy who wrote all those great tragic plays in the late 16th and early 17th century?) wasn't exactly a warrior, so what's with all the quotes from him to start chapters and sub chapters?

I also take offens
Aj Sterkel
Dec 04, 2015 Aj Sterkel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
First, I have to say that I’m not the target audience for this book. In the language of the book, I am most definitely a “sheep.” When all hell breaks loose, I run the other way. Fast.

I got this book for research purposes, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I wish that the book had more citations and more balanced arguments. Some of the statistics are worded in misleading ways, and a few of the chapters come across as one-sided rants. The author didn’t always convince me that his arguments were
Feb 15, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
Very intense, but incredible book on the psychology and physiology of war. I became interested in this after talking with dozens of Afghan mujahadeen (freedom fighters) who described to me in detail what it was actually like to be in combat against the Russians or Taliban, and how even as warriors they long for peace. This book also goes into detail to help the healing process of veterans who have been involved in combat through breathing exercises, meditation and learn from others who have been ...more
Apr 06, 2010 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the recommendation of a friend, I started reading this book. The reason he recommended it was because I'm in a leadership position in my military unit. I didn't think it was so much about how to be a good leader more than it was a book that talks about why we need warriors, who should be warriors, what a warrior should expect during combat and what to expect when coming home. This book is under my skin right now and has me questioning so much about myself. What I'm thinking is rather ...more
Nov 05, 2012 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Colonel Grossman looks at the psychology of combat and brings a completely new view of what happens in the mind of a man when he must kill. This book, along with its companion book, On Killing, are excellent resources for those in military or law enforcement who may some day have to fire on and possibly kill their fellow man. What ingrained mental processes may keep them from functioning as they need to to survive, how can they train to use their mind to the greatest advantage rather than have ...more
Dec 04, 2009 Owen rated it liked it
I found On Combat to be significantly more poorly written, and more reliant on personal anecdotes (to say nothing often inexplicable quotes from Shakespeare's histories) than On Killing. With that said, I found it to be more interesting (fascinating, in fact) and far more practical. Again, this isn't science yet, but LtCol Grossman is pushing the boundaries of what we know and understand about the human psyche and the human experience. All human experience will involve conflict- not necessarily ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a MUST read if you have any family members, friends or loved ones in the military. It treats the psychological aspect of what combat does to people. It discusses feelings during the episode, what happens to the physical body, what to espect, and even goes into detail on how to treat those who have been in combat or in a life and death situation. Towards the end of the book it teaches a breathing technique that can be used in any situation to calm yourself or someone else down, and ...more
Andy Valadez
Excellent book. For every sheep dog - law enforcement, military, martial artist or former military or law enforcement. Anyone who is interested in being a force for good. "On Combat" is designed to prepare the reader for "bullet proof" mind when it comes to understanding how conflict escalated saves lives. Colonel Grossman refuses interviews because the information he shares is the difference between life and death. Mistakes and misquotes in this regard can cost lives. Excellent analysis of ...more
Steven van Doorn
Oct 10, 2013 Steven van Doorn rated it it was amazing
A very good discussion on the many psychological and physiological aspects of combat. This book talks about what a warrior can expect to experience and feel in a deadly fight, how to prepare for that fight and what to do afterward to maintain your health both physically and more importantly mentally. A good read for any warrior (someone who has or may have to kill as a lawful part of their job). I can also see this book being very helpful for someone who knows a warrior and wants to better ...more
Tonya Smith
Jun 05, 2010 Tonya Smith rated it it was amazing
I feel this book would be interesting to anyone who is interested in psychology, is a police officer or soldier, or the wife of one. I being the latter found it very informative and allowed to to vicariously be able to know some of the things my husband goes through as a cop. I think being prepared mentally is important, and this book is excellent mental preparation for anyone looking to get into a profession that may lead to a dangerous encounter.
Travis Heermann
Sep 23, 2013 Travis Heermann rated it really liked it
As a writer who writes a lot of action and combat, I should have read this book years ago. The chapters about physiological effects of combat are fascinating, as are the numerous anecdotes from soldiers and police officers about their experiences. I recommend this book for anyone who puts himself or herself in harm's way, soldiers, law enforcement, security personnel. And I also recommend it for anyone who wants to know what it's really like to put oneself in mortal danger.
Phillip Holden
Feb 11, 2013 Phillip Holden rated it it was amazing
Col. Grossman’s is one of the most knowledgeable experts on why people kill. His expertise ranges from his own experiences as a special operations warrior to having trained thousands of military and law enforcement personnel. One element that sets him apart from many other experts is his ability to write on the topic in a manner anyone can comprehend.
For those interested in understanding what it takes to “confront the wolf,” I highly recommend this book.
Aug 04, 2011 Fred rated it liked it
This books explores the way that dealing with combat and violence affects soldiers, police officers, and others forced into the situation. It takes an in depth look at the training practices used today and used historically to prepare young recruits mentally for the psychological hardships that they are likely to encounter. I would say that this is a must read for all Junior NCO's and up in the military.
Gwen Burrow
Feb 19, 2013 Gwen Burrow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
Great stuff written by the guy who's seen it all. If you're a cop, a soldier, or a guard, or related to, married to, or just curious about any of them and the dramatic lives they lead, then read this. If you're a protector of any sort (aren't we all?), read this. If you're busy living in Condition White, assuming that bad things do happen but they won't ever happen to you, read this. It's a fascinating book. And it could save your life.
Jan 10, 2011 Ryan rated it it was amazing
In my humble opinion, this is a must read for anyone that deals with pressure situations on a daily basis. This is the follow up book to "On Killing" but Grossman's study goes deeper this time as he focuses on all combat situations, and the physical, mental, and psychological repercussions today's warriors experience. A lot of the information is repeated, but the first hand accounts that are chronicled in the book range from amazingly informative to down right haunting.
Jul 21, 2010 Lassie16 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic for understanding more about what soldiers/cops/Marines go through physiologically and psychologically before, during, and after battle. It covers common stressors, vulnerabilities, the warrior attitude, and the importance of training on performance - all using real-life examples that make this an interesting read.
Dianna Skowera
Jul 29, 2010 Dianna Skowera rated it it was amazing
A must, must have for anyone who thinks they have an opinion about combat or war. Regardless of your opinion this book is an informative study that has nigh been touched on before. Compelling perspectives and analysis of how we train people to kill, from police officer to soldier, and how they must learn to live after receiving that training.
Paige Gordon
Jan 04, 2014 Paige Gordon rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of combat and its effect on the human mind and body. It describes exactly what occurs prior to, during, and after combat and gives detailed advice on how to survive and thrive deadly force encounters. If you are military, LEO, or a CCW holder, read this book today!
An absolute must read for anyone in police work or the military. I made it a point to read this before being deployed to Afganistan for the real possibilty of being involved in combat. Grossman gives countless examples of experiences of police officers and military vets of what happens during and after combat. The biggest help was knowing what type of reactions to expect.
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Lt. Col Dave Grossman is the author of On Killing and On Combat as well as several science fiction books.

In 1998 Lt. Colonel Grossman retired from the military as Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University. His career includes service in the United States Army as a sergeant in the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, a platoon leader in the 9th Infantry Division (United States), a general
More about Dave Grossman...

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“There is no shame in failure. For a warrior the only shame is in not trying.)” 9 likes
“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it. —Thucydides” 5 likes
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