Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Anatomy of Evil” as Want to Read:
The Anatomy of Evil
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Anatomy of Evil

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,437 ratings  ·  120 reviews
The crimes of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, and other high-profile killers are so breathtakingly awful that most people would not hesitate to label them "evil." In this groundbreaking book, renowned psychiatrist Michael H. Stone—host of Discovery Channel’s former series Most Evil—uses this common emotional reaction to horrifying ...more
Hardcover, 430 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Prometheus Books
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 The Anatomy of Evil, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Anatomy of Evil

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,437 ratings  ·  120 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Anatomy of Evil
Lolly K Dandeneau
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book! I enjoyed the series, Most Evil. I am fascinated by the psychology of such people. It is interesting to read that several killers had injured their head when young. There must be a connection to brain trauma in some cases. Of course, in my heart I believe some people just have evil in them, even if that goes against science. I do realize a good majority has been injected with their inhumanity due to early trauma, abuse, genetics and environment. There are certainly eno ...more
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
I have always been fascinated with how the human mind works - especially in the cases of abnormal psychology and what actually causes a person to be "evil" or how they can justify the actions they've taken - rape, murder, manipulation, etc. Nature vs. Nurture has been a debate that's been going on for ages. Can a human being be born evil? There are cases of kids growing up in perfectly normal houses, with a normal social atmosphere that kill. Are they crazy? Were they born that way? Or what, if ...more
Passenger B.
As I have remarked about a handful of other books, such as People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil or The Emotional Rape Syndrome: How to Avoid and Survive It, any psychiatrist making use of words such as evil, monster, and any other metaphysical terminology already always puts me on edge.
I shudder to refer to this dude as "doctor" but... Dr. Stone and his co-writer claimed to have studied about 600 serial killers to create their scale of "evil."
The information I have is that this b
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
My favorite dubious conclusion was that serial killers who have issues with women start off killing cats because cats have faces like beautiful women.

Not entirely made up of bad arguments, but some of his ideas are definitely outdated. Also the rating system is entirely too subjective and without any real point, except as a way to organize his book.
Michele Lee
Prepare for a journey though the dark side with today's most widely recognized forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Stone. After years (and hundreds of killers studied) Stone created the Graduations of Evil Scale, and this book is his explanation of the process. The Anatomy of Evil is intense, featuring many profiles of killers, and none of the ones you'd expect. There are no Bundy or Gacy or Dahmer profiles here. And the focus doesn't stay on serial or mass killers at all.
Stone also doesn't give
Reese Copeland
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It gives good, detailed information as to what traits may exist that can be interpreted as evil. Being a counselor, I found this book fascinating in the author's attempt to organize the traits and how it relates to "gradations" of evil. He provides incredible case studies and examples of real life persons who have been considered evil and what their lives may have been like that contributed to their acts. Pretty easy read, very interesting!
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I had my fears in the beginning that this book was going to be dry and boring... It started out with a few definitions of evil that sort of made my head spin (then again, I started it at 3am on a night shift... brains don't function adequately at that time...) But very quickly I realized that my first assumptions were completely negative. This book was written in such a fluid motion that putting it down was next to impossible, despite how uncomfortable I was by reading about such horrible acts. ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! I LOVED this book. I am a forensic psychiatrist and so work with a lot of people on this spectrum of "evil". This book gave overviews of several different cases, where the author (Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist) had made a gradations of evil scale. There was a lot of discussion on what causes people to do the things they do, from genes, trauma, experiences, brain injury to people just born bad. I read the entire thing in two days. It was not a dense book, it flowed. Highly ...more
Nurse Nightmare
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I did like the analogies and so many examples he used to make a scale as such for 'evil' itself. I did however feel towards the end of the book with the after thoughts ect it was dragging on and not bringing anything new to the table. Very interesting concept though and very easy to read, also interesting.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I like the show---kind of interesting theory of evil existing on 22 levels. Book is really really good....goes into the science and rationale behind the groupings, the triad (bedwetting, animal abuse, setting fires) of childhood suggestive behavior)...really really good...uses lots of ancedotal evidence and references a ton of sources. I am looking at two of the other books referenced by this book right now. Of course you kind of have to be into this sort of thing (serial killers, child killers, ...more
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating scientific approach to what is typically lobbed about as a moral term. Way better than his show, Most Evil, by the way.
Alisa Kester
Sep 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Eh. I think this guy's entire premise is pointless.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
YAWN! Thought I would enjoy is, I was sadly mistaken.
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
If you want all true crime books to be as good as John Douglas’ you probably would find this book not as good! But it’s not really bad it’s just different! Some info about some cases was off and a bit inaccurate but the concept was good and I really enjoyed some of the psychoanalyses! I agreed with a lot of what the author had to say on the endless dilemma of Nature Vs Nurture! And I do believe that some people don’t just have a way out! It’s no f*ckin excuse but some people are dehumanized by w ...more
William Schram
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At turns fascinating and horrifying, Doctor Michael H. Stone's analysis of Evil in mankind is quite well done. Starting out with Dante Alighieri's different levels of hell, Dr. Stone attempts to classify levels of evil according to a certain standard. This is something that is difficult to do, seeing as how people do not all come from the same mold. There are signs that one can follow; like when a child enjoys torturing animals, but even that is not decisive.

Anyway, Stone's system is called The
Anna Higgins
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my first Dr. Michael Stone book I was preparing myself for a long, dense read however I found this book very informative and engaging using many examples starting from murders of passion to sadistic psychopaths.
What I learnt from this book is that murders labeled as evil can't be tarred with the same brush.
Dr Stone picks a part how we apply the term evil, not just based off the criminal act but how a combination of neurological abnormalities, mental health, genetics and environment could e
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this book very interesting, not only for its theme, but for its incorporation of "evil" as a social category and its attempto to scale evil degrees. It is quite easy to read, even for someone who is not familiar with neuroscience and its terms, and it provides an excellent compilation of references for further information. However, I think the last chapter, which focuses on neuroscience and evil, could have been longer, maybe it could be updated as research provides new knowledge on the ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Though the content that is displayed is interesting enough, and the Gradation of Evil is extremely intriguing to ponder about, I was hoping for a far more in depth analysis of the psychological nature of "evil" men and women instead of a more general approach of the various subjects. This details the what but never fully delving into the why.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
I guess this book would only be of interest to people who read "true crime", but according to Newsweek, that's most of us. Written by a forensic psychologist, the book outlines his scale for analysing murderes, citing true cases. Very interesting when read in the daytime.
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Landmark book for those (of us) with an interest in understanding the minds of serial killers. Kind of off-putting for most everyone else. A little heavy on the science, but that's what attempts to explain these behaviors that defy explanation.
Joe McDonald
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I learned that there are some sick individuals in this world! I also learned that homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women in the US!
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Great insight into the psychology of killers.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You must never believe that you've seen the limits of man's inhumanity against man. There is no bottom to human depravity.
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Anatomy of Evil is an intricate look at how the human mind works along with how those functions in your brain make you do certain actions or a feel a specific way when it comes to crimes. The author Michael H. Stone, explains in great depth many true real-life stories of people who are considered evil, homicidal, schizophrenic, maniacs, psychopaths, sociopaths, and etc. He describes in detail of each person's childhood or age that something off started to happen to them.
Along with that, th
Stephen Dressler
Probably about a 3.5 really. Very thorough gathering the many different episodes that have been labeled evil. All of this put together under one cover is definitely eye opening and a sad reality of humanity. For all the beauty and joy man/woman is capable there is much ugliness and unfeeling and evil that will plague us forever.
Andrea Hickman Walker
This was very good, but there were bits that were jarring in their superficiality.
Kieran Newcomb
While this book was fairly interesting, it does seem like the Categorization of Evil was created simply so that Dr. Stone would have a topic to write about other than “here are stories about serial killers”—which let’s be real, is pretty much exactly what I was looking for by reading this book. The psychological insight as to why serial killers commit these evils was relatively limited, and there were no theories that I’ve never heard before.

Nevertheless, it was entertaining.
Loveliest Evaris
This is one of THE GREATEST books I have ever read on the subjects it deals with, which is essentially criminology and the strong link between extreme mental illness and horrific crimes committed, as well as stepping in with a brief philosophical approach along the book's journey, which quizzes the reader, "What is EVIL?"

As if to try to give the reader an answer, Michael H. Stone goes through some of the worst of the worst serial and spree killers, sexual sadists and torturers, kidnappers, and s
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: partner-read
Thank you to Prometheus Books for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

What makes a person evil? How does that differ from our perception of evil in today's society? Michael Stone outlines his research of some of the most high-profile killers within the pages of THE ANATOMY OF EVIL. I know that I've frequently wondered what went wrong or what happened to these high-profile serial killers (watching a lot of documentaries and reading about the killers will do that). Is there one spec
Owen Spencer
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although not quite as insightful as I hoped it might be, "The Anatomy of Evil" is nevertheless a compelling, informative, and disturbing reading experience that is worthwhile for those interested in extreme behaviors. For better or for worse, most of this book is devoted to providing summaries of, and categorizing, murderous crimes and criminals thought of as "evil". The author's main points emphasize the independent and interactive effects of various factors that are predictive of evil actions. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime
  • Dark Dreams: Sexual Violence, Homicide and the Criminal Mind
  • The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals
  • The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI's Original Mindhunter
  • Inside the Criminal Mind
  • Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
  • The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty
  • The Evil That Men Do: FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood's Journey into the Minds of Serial Killers
  • Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders
  • In the Name of the Children: An FBI Agent's Relentless Pursuit of the Nation's Worst Predators
  • Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America's Dad
  • Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters
  • Dangerous Personalities: An FBI Profiler Shows You How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People
  • The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers
  • Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders
  • The Night Stalker
  • Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales
  • Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation
See similar books…
Michael H. Stone, MD (New York, NY) is professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is the author of ten books, most recently Personality Disorders: Treatable and Untreatable, and over two hundred professional articles and book chapters. He is also the host of Discovery Channel’s former series Most Evil and has been featured in the New York Times, Psychol ...more

Related Articles

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
50 likes · 28 comments
“Born evil? I know of no such person, even in the annals of crime or in the biographies of despots. The answer here is no.” 4 likes
“I am not so fortunate as to have Virgil as my guide, but I do have Dante as my inspiration.” 3 likes
More quotes…