Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Little Black Book of Violence by Laurence Kane and Kris Wilder

Wilder and Kris are martial artists. Their book is subtitled “What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting.” It was recommended by Sgt. Rory Miller and a couple of my krav instructors. I picked it up in order to round out (and likely conclude) my readings on violent encounters in the US. (Rory Miller, Gavin deBecker, Marc MacYoung). The book is written for someone fifteen years younger than I—a lifetime ago. It is interesting, though likely most effective as a sort of “scared straight” book to be given to a young man in your life who is just beginning to get involved in a lifestyle or peer group which are encouraging him to think violence and fighting is cool. This book is a three hundred page reminder that violence and fighting are dangerous and have very high costs.

Kane and Wilder describe ways to avoid violent encounters, ways to de-escalate an encounter which is on the brink of erupting into violence, a few techniques for resolving violent conflict quickly. These topics constitute approximately one-third of the book. The rest deals with a lengthy and elliptical enumeration of all the reasons that you don’t want to get involved in a violent conflict. They discuss the legal implications and costs (jail time, lawyers fees, prison sentences, effect on future employment, etc.) as well as the risks of injury and death. (No shortage of gruesome photos of stab wounds, etc.) They also cover (less convincingly) the moral costs of violence and the long term impact it can have on a person’s psyche.

Overall, the book works well as a tool for convincing young men that they should not fight, and that the costs of ANY violent altercation are likely to be far, far higher than they may seem when the testosterone and tequila are both flowing freely. Useful and interesting, if not necessarily intended for me.

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