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Summary

A chilling follow-up to the popular true-crime book The Anatomy of Evil.

Revisiting Dr. Michael Stone's groundbreaking 22-level Gradations of Evil Scale, a hierarchy of evil behavior first introduced in the book The Anatomy of Evil, Stone and Dr. Gary Brucato, a fellow violence and serious psychopathology expert, here provide even more detail, using dozens of cases to exemplify the categories along the continuum. The New Evil also presents compelling evidence that, since a cultural tipping-point in the 1960s, certain types of violent crime have emerged that in earlier decades never or very rarely occurred. 

The authors examine the biological and psychiatric factors behind serial killing, serial rape, torture, mass and spree murders, and other severe forms of violence. They persuasively argue that, in at least some cases, a collapse of moral faculties contributes to the commission of such heinous crimes, such that "evil" should be considered not only a valid area of inquiry, but, in our current cultural climate, an imperative one. They consider the effects of new technologies and sociological, cultural, and historical factors since the 1960s that may have set the stage for "the new evil."

©2019 Michael H. Stone, MD, and Gary Brucato, PhD (P)2019 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Fascinating, disturbing... Budding criminologists will find this a useful resource for study and contemplation, while true crime enthusiasts will be riveted by the assiduous prodding into the criminal mind." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The New Evil

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Weak, intellectually dishonest, and disappointing

The author claims to have a new theory, which is anything but. His central thesis seems to be that the breakdown in traditional values is to blame for a rise in particularly grisly crimes.

He makes a number of sweeping statements, backed by 'evidence' which is disputed or controversial, but presents these as 'facts'. One particularly egregious example was the section on murder by childcarers in which he discusses Louise Woodward and shaken baby syndrome, as if it is undisputed that the child was killed by SBS, by Woodward. This is far from the case, and I was shocked to hear an uncritical mention of SBS - particularly this case - in such a recent book.

He also frequently presents correlation as causation, where there is no academic consensus. (Boys with single mothers more likely to commit crime). He is very careful to precede unevidenced sweeping assumptions with statements such as: "Of course, it was a good thing that women no longer had to stay with violent husbands, but..."

The book is intended for a popular audience, not for academics. For a while, I allowed myself to blame this for the above issues. But it's one thing to avoid lengthy and technical debates in such a publication, and another thing entirely to misrepresent information that you, as an academic, are aware is not so clear cut. A popular audience can not fairly be expected to have the information to contradict what is told to them by this supposedly learned man, who cherry picks what supports his argument, and ignores everything else.


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The New Evil...

Well rotated 'phosphor' of an e-book!!! Tough - no nonsense approach to crimes and behaviour... Individual pieces at the back end of the book cement the audio!!! - Great...!!!

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Poor delivery

Fascinating insight into hundreds of real life “evil acts”,however,the machine gun rapid delivery of the narrator spoils it for me.

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  • leelee8888
  • 07-03-19

WARNING!!!.....

This book is not for the faint of heart. With that said, this book is one of the best audio books I own in this specific category, which for sake of this review I'll name" true crime books authored by forensic psychiatrists or criminal profilers".

This book far surpasses any book I've read by Douglas, Ressler or Hazelwood and that's because the cases in this book and not the same old regurgitated cases we hear over and over . The last two books I bought from Douglas , I was so bored I had to return one of them.

The other was the same high profile cases he writes about in all his books. The other profilers sugar coat the cases they pick and use the rest of the book to talk about how smart they are as profilers.

This book has really interesting cases , some I've never heard of, which is rare for the reasons I stated above. The cases that are well known , the "regurgitated"cases, at least have info added that I have never heard before and they do go into graphic detail but the delivery is done by a very pleasant sounding narrator.

This book is extremely graphic and extremely good. True crime lovers, you WILL NOT be disappointed!

Enjoyed thoroughly, thank you!

69 people found this helpful

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  • Leyte L. Jefferson
  • 13-06-19

A great true-crime read, but...

Overall, I got what I came for: A deep dive into true crime featuring cases and analyses that I hadn't heard before. But... there were some problems.

While I don't think the authors go excessively far in terms of their analysis of modern Western/American culture as a wellspring of especially evil/depraved crime, I think they do go *somewhat* far.

To wit: They're absolutely right when it comes to the ridiculous availability of guns; assorted drugs & alcohol; violence; and violent pornography, and how that sort of thing is always going to be harmful to *already at-risk* youth.

However... the authors show some troubling ignorance when it comes to how autism does and does not (always) work, what Goth culture is and is not, Wicca vs. Satanism... etc. Basically, I wound up eyeing the book askance quite a number of times as a person who has been a) married to someone on the autism spectrum for the past 15 years, b) surrounded by any number of Goths (though not one myself) who never once fit any of the criteria described in the book, and c) have tended to find Wiccans more dangerous to their mugs of herbal tea and vegan scones than to anyone or anything else.

In the end, this book was written by well-meaning people who have never seen fit to slip to the left of the mainstream, no matter how benign that slip might be. I appreciate their staunch feminism, I appreciate their dedication to their work, but -- everyone needs to open their minds, sometimes.

The narrator, while occasionally too fast, did a pretty good job with this, considering how many difficult/foreign words were interspersed with the less challenging ones. There were some decidedly odd mispronunciations, but overall? Nicely done.

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  • Courtney
  • 29-03-19

Maybe not the best pick for audio

I’m familiar with Dr. Stone from the show “Most Evil” and LOVE true crime and psychology. I am sure this is a fantastic book if read but as an audiobook it was really easy to tune out and it almost lulled me to sleep several times. I listen to lots of audiobooks and podcasts so it’s not that I’m just unfamiliar with the concept, this one I often tuned out and missed big chunks. I tried relistening but experienced the same thing. The narrator was kind of monotone and spoke a little too fast so I think this greatly contributed to the feeling but I think some books are just better on paper (or screen).

19 people found this helpful

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  • JaneConsumer
  • 29-05-19

Liked It, Didn't Love It

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Stone's earlier book, The Anatomy of Evil, so I expected to really like this one as well. But The New Evil is more a collection of case studies with a guide for categorizing criminals. I think it would be uniquely useful to a student of criminology or psychopathy, in particular. Anyone in law enforcement or who studies criminal behavior would find the book useful. But for me, a layperson, it was slightly tedious in parts.

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  • Randell Schummers
  • 14-09-20

comprehensive.

Vignettes exposing horrorific human behavior and a detailed analysis of disturbed individuals. This is a very graphic novel that exposes the unusual traits of humans which most will never experience, but the information is priceless. get this audible.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bridget E. Rogala
  • 21-11-19

Well-crafted narrative; more for academia

Well-constructed social and psychological narrative. Great for clinicians, research, and academia. Don't listen before bed like I did! It's the stuff of nightmares.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Q
  • 30-04-19

A Necessary Text for Our Times

Doctors Stone and Brucato offer a compeling clinical structure to interpret and communicate about behavior our culturewould define as "evil". A must read for any clinical mind, practioner or law enforcement.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Her Majesty, the Empress Eugenie
  • 10-08-20

Fascinating way to spend eighteen hours!

Plenty of gross-out details to appeal to people who enjoy such things, and plenty of academic-quality information to appeal to people who want to learn the subject sincerely. The narrator is great. The book is extremely thorough in addressing all flavors of evil behavior and its motivations. I really feel as though I've learned a lot, and I appreciate the authors' efforts.

My only quibble with the book is when the medical doctor and the psychologist decide to lecture about their thoughts on gun control, and about how my desire to own a modern sporting rifle is a sign that I'm not content with the size of my penis. As a woman, and as someone who keeps a firearm for home defense, I found this laughable.

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  • Kara Lou
  • 18-06-19

Don’t let the title fool you- it’s not that interesting.

This book turned from psychological research to liberal propaganda within the course of 10 chapters. As a psychological clinician myself, I expect to hear more on the behaviors and mentalities of people suffering severe psychological disorders, which culminate in heinous acts; not the opinion/beliefs by the author that guns should be banned in the US and our constitutional rights to own a gun should be usurped by the need to prevent those with evil intentions from owning them. Way to oversimplify such issues. Aside from that ridiculousness, this book was often dry and pedantic, to the point it came off as pretentious and convoluted. If I could, I would demand a refund as it was often times excruciating to endure.

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  • RH
  • 02-03-22

Very disappointing

I was interested in reading this primarily because, like others, I had noticed the bulge in serial murderers between 1970-2000, and was curious what this author would say were its causes or antecedents. I was quite astonished when they began their analysis with the invention of the birth control pill as a societal change that ultimately produced a devastating onslaught against the budding masculinity of boy children through a cascading series of events that ultimately removed their male role models by making it 'okay' to divorce and become a single mother, and at the same time exposed them to too much pornography.

I really had to raise an eyebrow at this: the first 2/3 of these serial killers (from the late 60s to 1990) can be mostly accounted for, not by children who grew up in the decadence of the post-1965 era, but those who grew up instead during the late 1940s, 1950s, and even the early 1960s, the supposed age of American near-perfection when (white) men had steady jobs and women were at home where they were 'supposed' to be, caring for the kids. Children born in the post-1960s decadence (eg 1970) were not 'serial killing age' (would that be roughly 25-35?) until 1995, near the end of the serial killer bulge. So let's think about a different kind of mass social change that occured, not in the 1960s, but in the mid 1940s and throughout the 1950s. I'm talking about the mass entry of the television set into American living rooms: between 1946 and 1951, the number of TV sets rose from 6,000 to 12 million and by 1955 nearly half of all homes in the U.S. had one. This brought an entirely new form of mass media into homes: stories that included visual images and were available on a daily basis, thus flooding the mind and the imagination in a way that books, weekly trips to the movies, and even radio could not do.

What did children see on these TV sets that they hadn't had such access to before? Well, first there was the exaltation of the American cowboy in the popular westerns of the day, shooting Indians and other 'evildoers', and second, there was the elevation of the great American soldier in war movies of the time, extolling the killing of 'the enemy'. Together, these created a kind of post-war myth of American masculinity--strong, silent, tough, with the happy woman eager to follow behind him or long for him adoringly across distances. This was what captured young boys' imaginations when they thought about manhood. Before TVs and their visual images became common in American living rooms, young people had adult gender role models, but these represented the diverse array of human beings that populated any family or town. There was not the single captivating image of the strong, silent cowboy or the tough WWII hero with dewy-eyed women.

In addition to this onslaught of new images of masculinity, young boys of the 1950s were haunted by the splitting of women seen in the media into either 'good girls' on the one hand or loose sluts on the other. At the same time, they also had mothers who were still conditioned to believe that self-stimulation and other natural sexual impulses that young children may evince were 'evil' behaviors that should be discouraged.

Then, after all this media conditioning regarding gender roles and sexuality, the young adults who had grown up in the late 1940s and 1950s had the rug pulled out from them in the mid-1960s--yes, there was eventual sexual liberation but first there was Vietnam--and this was a war beamed into everyone's living room every night with the evening news. The atrocities of actual war (as opposed to the sanitized war films and 'updates' aired during WWII), were not only overwhelming visually; in addition, the young men who fought in Vietnam were not viewed as the WWII heroes they had grown up admiring, but instead as people who killed senselessly in a war increasingly seen by the public as senseless. This was pretty hard stuff for this young generation that came of age in the 1960s (let's call them the older half of the baby boomer generation).

There *were* radical changes that occurred in the 1960s and there is a post-1960s world that didn't exist yet in 1958 or 1959, or even 1962. There were a lot of things that happened during that decade that affected all citizens--assassinations of revered leaders, race riots, atrocities of the Vietnam war, the vast betrayal of trust that ensued with the Pentagon papers, and yes, sexual liberation. These were all beamed into living rooms. No-one was prepared, not even the much-reviled baby boomers who in fact were the children of the late 1940s and 1950s, America's supposed golden age. A 20-year old male in 1965 had been born in 1945. These were the young men who went to Vietnam, their heads filled with images of 'wholesome' cowboy and WWII masculinity, who fought in an entirely different war than their fathers had and came back too often broken and sometimes even shunned. They were not often lauded as heroes. The young men who didn't go to Vietnam experienced its disillusionment nonetheless everyday on the news. The majority of the 'serial killer' bulge of the last third of the twentieth century represents not so much the presumed decay of society that supposedly began in the upheavals of the 1960s, but instead the unrealistic gender roles this generation, the first to grow up with TVs in their home, had imbibed from the media--tough, silent males, and the whore/good girl females of 1950s TV and films. Young boys in the 1950s who grew up in homes that were abusive and traumatic had only these unrealistic images to first guide and ultimately to enrage them as they encountered female rejection that mass media of the time told them they should not have to endure. The images of violence suddenly streaming into their homes (or in real life in Vietnam) did not help them contain this rage.

Society *did* change significantly in the 1960s--TVs were in over 80% of homes by 1960 and color TV sets became affordable in the late 1960s; small towns were loosening their 'everyone lives and works in the same town and knows everyone else' tight social bonds as more and more people migrated to the more anonymous suburbs of large cities and commuted elsewhere to work; the newly-built interstate highway system made movement easy; and yes, sexual liberation and violent imagery were everywhere. At the same time, the opportunity to weigh oneself against the ideal images of the media never stopped, and then as today, young people were aware of how much they fell short of those media ideals. But the young adults of the 1960s hadn't had the social studies curricula and health classes that assured them of the unreality of TV images and the 'okayness' of their own bodies, nor did they yet have the kind and gentle children's programming that allowed children to learn more loving messages from TV in their first five years of life. Unfortunately, young males who had grown up in abusive and/or repressive homes in the late 1940s and 1950s were suddenly met in the mid-1960s with audacious images of violence on TV and in theaters, and these appealed to and whetted the appetite of some who had not grown up with loving parents or been successful at achieving the ideal gender role ideals enshrined in their minds--the strong, silent male with his dewy-eyed loving female. It also led to rage for young males who believed, based on those TV images, that those unrealistic gender roles were their right.

At the same time, society itself was still mostly trusting and naive (unlocked doors, cars, and windows) and lacked all the sophistications we enjoy today: alarm systems for homes; cell phones; built-in wariness about walking alone in certain places or anywhere at night; self-locking car doors; bad vibes about hitch-hiking; and advanced forensic science, including DNA identification. By 2000, the modern world had finally caught up with the dangerous killers and predators who flooded the headlines from 1970-1999, there were fewer available victims, and law enforcement was better able to identify and capture murderers before they became serial killers.

I think the serial killer bulge was society struggling to catch up with the forces unleashed by the constant presence of mass media and its too-often brutal messages in our homes--not only the continual presence of violence and mindless sexuality, but also the constant images of 'the good life' held up as unrealistic ideals--those beautiful, popular, rich, gloriously happy people most of us would never become but nonetheless would constantly measure ourselves against. Much of the pathology we are currently flooded with as a society--substance use, depression, eating disorders, anxiety--comes in large part from that constant measuring presence in our lives combined with the drumbeat of consumerism telling us that if only we buy the right products we can bridge that comparison gap in our lives.

In short, I was very disappointed at the one-dimensional and superficial vision offered in this book regarding why the 1960s marked a turning point for murders in our country. The argument that 'the 1960s were to blame' ignores the fact that the majority of serial killers in the final third of the last century were children of the late 1940s and 1950s before that 'societal decay' began, and psychopathic murderers are largely made in childhood. Childhood trauma, abuse, sexual repression, genetics, and unrealistic images from the omnipresent media that began entering our homes en masse in the 1950s, combined with a society not yet prepared for them, more than adequately explain the serial killer bulge of 1970-2000.

1 person found this helpful