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The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Six moving profiles reveal the human stories behind gun violence in the United States.

A mother's untimely death causes a boy's emotional spiral that culminates in drug-related shooting and twenty-three years in prison; an honor roll student and all-American athlete drunkenly brandishes a shotgun and accidentally shoots a man; a fresh, hopeful Chicago police officer kills
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by Arcade Publishing
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Valerity (Val)
This true crime book shares six narratives of shooting situations where gun violence in the US is involved, opening the discussion about the topic and also gun regulation. The author delves into the story behind the headlines of each case to find the human reality of it and bring it to light.

Then the book brings up the mass shooting in Las Vegas in the epilogue too, and how that’s affected things in our country. I’d say equally affecting even since then has been the school shootings, especially
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The concept for this book is brilliant, and I don't think anyone has attempted this study in quite the same way. The brilliance ends with the concept, however, and Patinkin takes over and almost blows it.

Let's get the biases out in the open right off the hop: Mr Patinkin is not a big fan of guns, whereas I am quite fond of the shooting sports, so we have to know up front that we are unlikely to agree on most topics relating to firearms. Mr Patinkin got the idea that he should write a book in whi
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Mr. Patinkin is unquestionably a gifted writer; I finished his work off faster than a box of Cinnabon's left in a college dorm lobby. He has given voice to six persons, taking some mild creative license along the way, all of whom shot and killed other persons, who were not otherwise endowed with the talent of writing. Interestingly, while this work is about guns, the author spends most of his time writing of the past and present lives of the shooters and their families, leading me to experience ...more
Ana-Maria Bujor
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It's easy to dismiss the gun violence crisis as "oh, they're all gun nuts". This book however asks some tough and uncomfortable questions that should be asked and gives humanity back to 6 of those who shot someone at some point in their lives. Is there redemption for someone who shot his mother? How long should we label someone as a criminal? Are there really second chances? What if you shoot someone so as not to shoot yourself? What if you save a life?
The book walks both into the shoes of the
Jessica Bronder
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I first saw this book I was curious to see how Daniel J. Patinkin would execute this since guns are such a major topic currently. The moment you say gun and shooting you have a sever reaction either against all guns or for them. In the very beginning of the book Daniel even talks about how hard it was to try and find a couple people that would be willing to share their shooting stories.

The Trigger is well executed in how it presents six stories of shootings, what happened, and how it change
Patricia Ibarra
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the United States in the last 50 years more than 1.5 million people have been killed by gunshots, more than all the soldiers dead in all the wars since 1775. Some of the reasons are the easy availability of guns, poverty, drug use, domestic violence, mental issues, among others. The author presents in this book the stories of six completely different people who shot somebody in their lives. He helps us to see that behind every shooter there is a human being, some wicked but others who are the ...more
Holly Housman
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting, detailed and personal stories of individuals who used a gun to kill somebody. Insightful perspective inside each persons reasons and detailed follow through as to what happened to them after. I did not find the book 'politically leaning' or pro/con gun control in any way. Just stories about how people's lives were changed both good and bad by their actions. The book was not a page turner but I truly enjoyed the authors dedication to telling the whole story, whether good or bad and h ...more
François Mahu
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book is a window offering a very fleshed out view of the gun culture in the United States of America by presenting several, completely different life experiences that have been shaped by the shortcomings of the American Dream then transformed by the pull of a trigger.
The author is exceptionally proficient at writing from the point of view of the killer while also completing the picture with researched facts surrounding the life of the perpetrators. The vocabulary and the pace change to embo
Toby Mustill
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I look and read this book I realize it is a juxtaposition to “Another Day in the Death of America” by Gary Younge, so go read that too! Written about the perpetrators of shootings, “The Trigger” really makes one consider what is a criminal. It emphasizes what I have known for years, that crime is more than an act, it is that persons years of personal history that led to a single (sometimes unfairly) defining moment. This book does an excellent job of following the shooters before and after ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book succeeds in achieving its intended purpose, which is NOT to make a statement either way in favor of or against guns or gun control. The purpose is to add another meaningful piece to the vast and intricate puzzle of America, and America is a country of guns.

When Time magazine put that bomber kid's face on their cover, there was a huge backlash, and rightly so. Because that gave the kid attention and glory. There is no glory for the perpetrators of violence in The Trigger. Nor is the rea
Daniel Boyd
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating book that highlights the nuanced and complex reality of one the major American issues of our time. The author illuminates six stories from the perspective and experience of a person who has shot and killed another human being - skillfully describing the circumstances that led to those events and the repercussions the shooter must face as consequence for those actions. It's rarely as black and white as we so often believe.

This book is written with an instinctive flair for s
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overwritten, but Necessary

Six shooters, and so many lives impacted.

While reading through this, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with what oft felt like unnecessary and overdone details about the times, circumstances, and lives of of those involved in each incident. The reading straddles between sharing the narrative of the times and telling the stories of these men and women. I would have appreciated the reading much more if it were constructed differently, focusing more on the individuals an
Fatso Judson
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chapter 6, An All-American Boy: Brandon Clancy, should be required reading for all high school students. Clancy was a good kid who needlessly took an innocent life and ruined the lives of countless others. All due to a reckless incident caused by alcohol fueled machismo while in possession of a gun.

Reading about what Clancy goes through in the aftermath of killing someone should terrify teenagers and possibly make them think about the consequences when they are looking for trouble.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
"The Trigger" is a well-researched, unbiased look at six vastly different people in the U.S. that have one thing in common - they've shot someone to death. The author states in the prologue that his goal was to remain from making any political statements about gun violence or gun control. I personally wish the author had taken more of a stance or had further explored what opportunities were missed by us/our society that encouraged or allowed the shooting to take place versus spending much of the ...more
Alex Ouligian
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Patinkin shows the complexities, emotions, and moral ambiguities of his subject with fairness and depth. Overall, an excellent portrayal of real people experiencing real tragedies. He does not condemn or exalt; he allows his readers to draw their own conclusions. Perhaps the most valuable part of the experience was leaving with the sense that I could see myself in each story and ended up wanting both justice and empathy for everyone.
Kathleen McCormack
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. Each story drew me in and held my attention. I also thought it was very well written, I actually had to look up two words in the dictionary! I love that bc it doesnt happen that often. I also thought the writer took a courageous look into lives that the ordinary person would never come across and present them in a very non judgmental way. So often we jump to conclusions quickly and do not know the whole story. I am looking forward to Dan's next book! ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found The Trigger captivating from the first page. It offers a view of guns and violence that is rarely seen - the true and honest perspective of the shooter. The stories were well written and left me wanting more. I'm curious to see what the author's follow up will be to this book. ...more
Jane Thompson
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True Crime Story

This is a sensitive and touching review of six people who shot someone. The author explains the circumstances and the life conditions that led to the shooting. It is worth them reader's time and effort to learn about these stories.
Paula Corregan
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book !

This book narrates the stories of six people who killed other individuals as well as the reasons they pulled the triggers. This narrative shows that crime is not always cut and dried. This book gives an entirely different viewpoint concerning crime. I recommend this book to other true crime readers.
This book was really gripping. It contains the personal stories of six different people who have all shot someone. It was very detailed, well written, and goes deep into each individual's background and life story well before the shootings ever took place.

The stories are really varied to offer a wide scope of perspective. One story was about a cop who shot someone to save a life. One was about a young woman who had suffered years of abuse. Others were hardened criminals, and some had no crimina
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No matter where you sit on the stance of guns in America, The Trigger is a great read. I was really drawn to the book's human approach to its fascinating but flawed subjects. Definitely recommended! ...more
Ellie Wiygul :)
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! It’s a must read for everyone!
Heidi Leder
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting perspective into the lives of people who have killed someone with a gun and the thoughts going on in their minds. Worth the read.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It's very different from the books I'm used to reading. The author actually interviewed six people who shot and killed other people and he is telling their stories, experiences and background. We get to know about these shooters' lives before the crime and experience it all through them. You don't meet people like that and hear their stories everyday! It's such an interesting book. Hard to put down. ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
While this book was interesting and I learned some things I didn't know about gun violence in America, I felt that the stories were relayed in a somewhat confusing manner. It was an easy read and good for true crime lovers. ...more
Sami Abuhamad
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read! Daniel Patinkin tells the true life stories of six american shooters.
Like me, you will be hooked after the first one but keep reading, it gets better and better.
The descriptive details of the narratives are told in an unbiased fashion and are truly Captivating and thought - provoking! These are the true stories behind the American shooter.
Martha M.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Trigger is one of the most compelling books I have read this year. Each narrative is told in a unique format as to get a better understanding of the shooter. This book has so many talking points and will be added to my book club list!
Greg Hickey
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
An empathic and revealing look into the lives and circumstances of six Americans who have shot another person. For the most part, Patinkin does well in laying out the chronological events that led to his subjects acquiring a gun and having a reason to use it, whether that reason was the perpetuation of a criminal lifestyle, anger, psychosis or self-defense. My biggest complaint is with the third chapter of the book, where Patinkin begins with his subject's trial and prison sentence, then flashes ...more
Nicole L
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a captivating read that really delves into the mindset of each shooter; I didn't put it down for days. The author's writing style takes care to humanize the people in each situation vs. a typical news report that only focuses on buzzwords. If you're looking for an honest, objective, first-hand account of these kinds of stories, you must read The Trigger. ...more
Joe Mack
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Couldn't put it down. I could easily see myself in each of the shooter's shoes if I had lived the circumstances of their lives. ...more
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