Tag Archives: the little black book of violence

Book Review: The Little Black Book of Violence

listen-to-the-subtle-and-not-so-subtle-warnings-coverOne does not simply review a book like this without pausing – for one moment – to appreciate the attention-grabbing power of its title. A moment of silence, please.

[crickets]

Good? Good. Oh, and any pacifists who may be reading this are welcome to the smelling salts; just look in the cabinet on the left. Good? Good. You’ll need them again before I’m finished.

The Little Black Book of Violence is written by two guys who know what they’re talking about. A strange (some would say silly) observation, perhaps, but one I believe is worth making. These men have experience. (One could say they have ‘a history of violence,’ but I think that conveys the wrong idea.) This isn’t just a bunch of theory for them; it’s down-to-earth, nitty gritty, keep-your-head-from-getting-torn-off practical. And that’s Reason #1 why they deserve a hearing.

The book is divided into three sections. The first (Before Violence Occurs) details the importance of identifying and avoiding conflict to begin with. According to the authors, “fighting is what you do when you’ve totally screwed up your self-defense.” Concepts like awareness and de-escalation are given plenty of attention, with the aim of convincing you that such skills are even more vital than whatever butt-kicking skills you have or think you have.

Of course, if you are forced into a fight, you should be prepared to do just that: fight. Teddy Roosevelt’s advice comes to mind: “Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.” The second section (During a Violent Encounter) focuses on a series of self-defense tips and techniques. Nothing fancy, just no-nonsense advice on how to keep the other dude from stomping a mud-hole through your face. It’s an insightful read, but there’s only so much you can explain on paper, and it’s difficult to practice the techniques unless you’re working with a trainer. (My siblings weren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of being subjected to a neck joint crush. Go figure.)

The final section (Aftermath of Violence) is probably the most sobering, as the authors make it clear that surviving a violent encounter is only the beginning. After that, you’ve got another battle to fight: legal, physical, psychological, financial, or a combination of all four. Topics like first aid, creating witnesses, and talking to the police are discussed here.

In the end, what Kane and Wilder manage to do – very effectively, I might add – is deglamorize violence and make it seem very uncool. Necessary in certain cases? Yes. Something to be engaged in lightly? Not on your life.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that this book does contain a smattering of language and some graphic images (most of these are related to the aftermath of violent encounters, but there is one partial nude shot). This isn’t a book for youngsters by any stretch of the imagination.

On the Bookshelf XVII

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Anathem by Neal Stephenson
I’ve never read anything by Stephenson before, but I picked Anathem up for $1.99 in the Kindle store – which is a pretty good deal, considering the length of the book is well over 900 pages. I’ve barely started, but a family vacation is on the horizon, and you know what that means: lots of time in the car with nothing to do but read. Cool.
Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton by Kevin Belmont
Looking forward to this one: “You may be aware that G.K. Chesterton authored influential Christian biographies and apologetics. But you may not know the larger-than-life Gilbert Keith Chesterton himself – not yet.”
The Hole In Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
Rev Kev for the win. That is all.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
“A breath-taking epic, a magnificent adventure story, and an investigation into the true heroism and courage of the first Americans to conquer space.” My first encounter with Mr. Wolfe’s writing, and possibly one of the best non-fiction books I’ll read this year.
Metamorphoses by Ovid
If I’ve learned anything from this book – and I’ve learned quite a bit – it is that the pagan deities truly were a sorry bunch. (I’m reading the translation by Charles Martin.)
A Shot of Faith (To the Head) by Mitch Stokes
I’d anticipated reading this one ever since Douglas Wilson named it “Book of the Month” for May 2012. So far, it hasn’t disappointed. Stokes is a sharp and tremendously readable writer – he defends Christian belief, takes the offensive against atheism, and helps the reader build his own “arsenal” with which to confront the skeptics. Highly recommended.
The Little Black Book of Violence by Lawrence A. Kane and Chris Wilder
“A very cool yet frightening perspective on violence; a book where the dreams of heroism and adventure are acted upon with proper forethought and intellect.” Gotta love the title. Right? Right? Okay, maybe it’s a guy thing.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?