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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

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,332 ratings  ·  91 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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I Love a Cop by Ellen KirschmanOn Killing by Dave GrossmanSpiritual Survival for Law Enforcement by Cary A. FriedmanOn Combat by Dave GrossmanEmotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin M. Gilmartin
Police officers and families
2nd out of 25 books — 8 voters
The Doolittle Raid by Carroll V. GlinesA Higher Call by Adam MakosThe Unseen War by Benjamin S. LambethOn Combat by Dave GrossmanUndaunted by Tanya Biank
CSAF Reading List - 2014
4th out of 12 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

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Gordon Alley
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 sh ...more
Nicholas Maulucci
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 wh ...more
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 m ...more
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
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.
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Dawn Jayne
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
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
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 cor ...more
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
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 personal ...more
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 d ...more
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 t ...more
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
Awesome book, but not for you. Covers training, physiology, psychology and more related to killing. How to train those whose job it is to kill, soldiers, police etc. How the media and FPS video games train those we don't want to kill, Columbine,Jonesboro etc. How to deal with killing or its negative side effects.

A must read for any warrior or anyone associated personally or professionally with one. Also excellent for first responders and others whose lives are touched by violent death. This book
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.
Tonya Smith
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.
Gwen Burrow
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Eva Bigongiari
Even if you're not a "warrior" by trade, this book can teach you about the mindset and realities of conflict and combat. It is very helpful to know these things should you ever find yourself in a survival situation. It will also help you understand what our warriors are going through when they come home.
Excellent book. On Combat is written by a guy who really knows his shit. This book explains the power and root of all things that are conflict. Amazing book, a must read for anyone in the military/law enforcment field.
A continuation of the work LtCol Grossman began in On Killing - everyone who puts on a uniform and goes into a situation where he or she may have to engage in combat should read this book. A great public service.
This book is not well written. That said it really doesn't matter because you won't find a better reference guide on what happens during combat and how to be prepared anywhere. Awesome book.
Shane Hatch
I have never been in combat. I have never had to use a weapon for defense or offense. But i admire my friends and family who have, and will in defense of society. There are 3 types of people. Wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. You are the sheepdogs and i want to be like you. This book does a great job of explaining what happens to us when we enter combat and training methods that will give you the best chance of returning to a life you allow us to enjoy. It also teaches how to exit combat and conquer ...more
this one takes a more focused look at the mind in combat situations, specifically with regards to soldiers and peace officers. Also an excellent read.
"The prepared you won't fear." well really fear less. Physical training prepared my body for stress this book helped prepare my mind.
A Soldier
A book instructive on police/army reality, easy to read written, but with some questionable (at least polemic) assessments and statements.
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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...
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, Revised and Updated Edition: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence The Two-Space War The Guns of Two-Space (Two-Space War, #2) Sheepdogs: Meet our Nations Warriors

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“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” 1 likes
“There is no shame in failure. For a warrior the only shame is in not trying.)” 1 likes
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