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The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores The Key To Understanding And Catching Violent Criminals

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  4,458 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Every crime is a mystery story with a motive at its heart. Understand the motive and you can solve the mystery. "The Anatomy of Motive" offers a dramatic, insightful look at the development and evolution of the criminal mind. The famed former chief of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, Douglas was the pioneer of modern behavioral profiling of serial criminals. Working a ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published 1999 by Scribner
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Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, great
An interesting question that came to my mind:

Our society and pop culture always encourages people to 'follow our dreams', everything is about our dream, dream, dream, dream and dreams coming true.

But what if some people's dreams are to kill and maim other people, to take pleasure in torture and suffering?

And these people are very, very real.

Meet the serial killers, the mass shooters, the lone wolf bombers and the arsonists, their fantasies drove them to commit different sorts of crime, some of t
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To look at my reading list, you might think I have an unhealthy fascination with the morbid. But the truth is my fascination, or rather intense interest, is the biological basis for belief and ultimately behavior. In short, why do we believe the things we believe (particularly the silly things) and why do we do the things that we do (particularly the bad ones).

The book was written (with some help from Mark Olshaker) by John Douglas, a famous former FBI profiler who helped to shape profiling into
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: criminals, people having midlife crises, people contemplating criminality

John Douglas, a former FBI profiler, is a guilty pleasure. This is probably the best of the three books of his I've read- it's better organized than Mindhunter and covers more ground than The Cases that Haunt Us- but it's not significantly better. Once you've read a Douglas book, you know what to expect. He writes directly, with a dry sense of humor. His books contain clear and meaningful distinctions. It's not rare that I come across a passage that teaches me something I never quite realized I
Cooper Cooper
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Douglas, co-founder of the FBI’s behavioral sciences profiling unit, served as the model for John Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs. Since the movie, Douglas and some of his co-profilers of violent criminals have flooded the market with books on the subject. The Anatomy of Motive is a good one: it defines and analyzes what makes such offenders tick, illustrating throughout with real-world cases, some of them (for example, Cunanan, Son of Sam, the Unabomber) well-known to the general pub ...more
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writers often go to many lengths, in the name of research, to produce quality fiction for their readers. THE ANATOMY OF MOTIVE proved a rather enjoyable read, as I delved into the minds of serial killers, spree killers, and mass murderers. This book’s approach proved perfect for my research endeavor. It described the crimes that took place, analyzed many high profile incidents, and then it delved into the mind of the man or woman that would commit such an act. It ended with a series of four case ...more
Liz Lazarus
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be prepared for some chilling stories, that are also so fascinating. What makes a person become a serial killer versus a spree killer or a mass murderer? What is the criminal triad? How does the way a body is disposed of tell you about the relationship of the killer to the victim? What's the difference between an MO and a signature? What crimes are females more likely to commit?
All of these questions and many more are answered by John Douglas. And, as I write my next thriller, this book provided
I was really impressed by John Douglas's books (together with Mark Olshaker) 'Mindhunter' and "Journey into Darkness' when I read them years ago. It was interesting to follow his career in the FBI as the first ever criminal profiler as well as his detailed explanation about the motives behind the different crimes he had encountered. This book, however, did not seem to attain the same level of excellence as its predecessors. I found the facts and information to be rather dryly delivered. Maybe an ...more
Benjamin Barnes
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was quite an Interesting read. I'd envourage anyone who Live true crime to read this. It helps make sense of Criminal minds!.
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread2015, owned
Have I never reviewed this before? I've read it like three times. Huh.

John Douglas, along with fellow profiler Robert K. Ressler and forensic nurse Robert K. Ressler, put together the Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes as a reference manual for law enforcement to apply the basics of profiling to their cases.

This book is a narrative form of the above - less into the specific details, more about stories that exemplify each category. Some
J.H. Moncrieff
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All of John Douglas's books get five stars from me. What a fascinating man. If you're at all interested in why people commit crimes, how they commit them, and what factors in their personalities and lives led them to that point, you will love this book. Every crime is a murder mystery, and when Douglas breaks down each case and criminal, you get real insight into how FBI profilers work. He even includes sample cases for the reader to figure out at the end (although they would be more effective i ...more
Cath Murphy
Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand criminal profiling. Especially eery because Douglas' analysis of Timothy McVeigh, who set off the Oklahoma bomb exactly matches the personality of Anders Breivik, who bombed and shot 84 people in Norway last year.
I think Douglas and Olshaker wrote this for people getting into law enforcement, but this is a great book for anyone--particularly writers--struggling to understand the mindset of a psychopath. Though Douglas never uses the word, most of the cases he worked on--including the Unabomber--involve psychopaths. (This doesn't mean that all psychopaths are murderers, or even criminals. Psychopathy is a mindset of control, and I think we've all known psychopaths who, by legal markers, would be considere ...more
Another excellent true crime book by John Douglas - you can't go wrong with him telling the tales. This particular book covers sections such as school shootings, spree killers and bombers, to name but a few, and is delivered with Douglas' typical no-nonsense style, whilst being organised into logical chapters which really help the reader to absorb and understand the stories being told.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The profiling was interesting to read about. My main concern about these people, is that there were many signs in their behavior, that something was wrong at a very early age. I spent most of my life in education and can attest to the fact that counseling in elementary school is definitely lacking. If there was something done for these children, when they first exhibited peculiar behaviors, many lives would have been saved.
Lisa Robbins
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find John Douglas and his work completely fascinating. This installment was a bit different than most of the others I've read. It focuses on motives involved in the cases he talks about. He uses the details of the crimes and the apparent motives behind them to find the perpetrator. I find the psychology of criminals to be intriguing and John Douglas never lets me down.
Casey Keen
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, John Douglas' books are the best when it comes to true crime facts of motives, operation and FBI techniques. I love his books!
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arsonists, guys who snapped, Cunanan, Charles Joseph Whitman — feels like odds and ends
Agatha Glowacki
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very detailed and excellent book based on actual cases and research. Great companion to shows like Criminal Minds; like a study guide to each episode. Very intense, though, and dense. I found it a bit overwhelming at times, and hard to get through. But lots of great insights important to know.

Just some notes another review shared that I wanted to keep to remember the key points of the book:

*Basic Formula. Douglas’s basic formula for solving crimes = Why? + How? = Who.

*Classification of Multipl
Heather Dee
“Why” is the number one thing people want to know in the wake of a violent crime, and learning how to uncover the “why” is the subject of this book. Given that the subject matter should be so compelling, I found it odd how frequently I zoned out or lost interest during this book. That may not be Mr. Douglas’ fault; perhaps I’m over-saturated with this subject matter as of late. I’ve read other books that Mr. Douglas wrote and found myself on the edge of my seat. I can’t entirely tell if this bo ...more
Helen Robare
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read all of John Douglas' books and this one is just as good as any of the others. This man never disappoints his readers. He explains about motive and intent in a knowledgeable manner and he also includes actual cases. This is not light reading so if you read it you WILL learn/take away something from this book. For any true crime aficionado, it's a must-read.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Thoughtful, informative...
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Why did it do it!?!?!?! I should never have reread this book. It ruined everything.

Back in 1999 I was in awe of Douglas, who seemed to not only be a mindhunter, but a mindreader. I was absolutely captivated by his lectures on how to figure out who done it. He spoke of the Green River Killer (and how it almost killed him), the JonBenet Ramsey murder (after watching the incredible documentary that points the finger at the brother, I now wonder what Douglas really knew), and other famous intriguin
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, now! This was quite an enjoyable read. The authors write in a way that is engaging as well as informative, though I can't say I learned all that much as a psychology major (pretty much everything in this book is now taught in various introductory and undergraduate-level psychology courses). Nonetheless, the authors were articulate without falling too far into the endless rabbit hole that can be technobabble. Behavioral science/forensics can often be tricky to discuss correctly, as the conc ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book after reading John's debut, Mindhunter, and as a whole I think I prefer this book over the first. Mindhunter helped to establish a relationship between the reader and John, and engage in his development both as a young man and a professional psychologist.

That was a much needed introduction, but as it had already been made, this book jumped straight into the criminology and victimology that the demographic of this book will thrive on.

I felt the profiles and motives on the
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a time when I wanted to be in the FBI as a criminal psychologist/profiler. This book was one of the driving forces behind that desire. It's expertly written with a down-to-earth tone, chronically one FBI agents quest to understanding serial killers and pathological murders. Though the subject matter is intense and often disturbing, John Douglas comes across as a simple and decent man driven to understand his enemy more than condemn. The key to any criminal case is finding and understan ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Douglas is an excellent crime writer, which is no surprise given his background. This book is a highly interesting, fast paced introduction to motive, means, opportunity modus operandi, all those fancy crime words we hear - presented in an approachable and engrossing way. Not only are serial murders discussed, but also poisoning, arson, kidnapping, and robbery - the whole gang. If you're a diehard true crime reader, or someone who merely dabbles in the subject this book will be a worthwhile read ...more
Joe Albanese
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a college graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, i liked this book much more than i did most of the books i had to read over my college career. It makes you feel as if you are a detective trying to solve the crime. People interested in the subject should like this book. My only complaint is that John Douglas seems to be a little full of himself, but he seems like a really smart guy i leanred a lot from while reading.
Daniel Stern
it was informative. Its strength is the explanation of how psychological motive underlies, and differentiates, types of violent crimes. As any fan of Mr. Douglas expects, numerous fascinating case examples culled from his career solving violent crime illustrate the narrative. Recommended for students of human nature, psychology students or dilettantes, or any reader whose life philosophy is forewarned is forearmed.
Anne Fox
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book on profiling from the viewpoint of a former FBI profiler. He gives case examples as well as details regarding how a profile is developed to identify a suspect.

I would have given this book five stars, had it not been for some glaring formatting issues from the beginning to the fourth chapter that made paragraph separations hard to ascertain and which, for me, were a bit of a distraction.
Kate Oreschak
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's basically the TV show Criminal Minds, but in book form and real. Interesting read. I went out and bought two more by the author.
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John Edward Douglas is a former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, one of the first criminal profilers, and criminal psychology author. He also wrote four horror novels in the mid 1990s. -Wikipedia

During his twenty-five year career with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, a name he later changed to The Investigative Science Unit (Douglas & Olshaker, 1995), John Douglas becam

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