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Hunting Humans: The Rise Of The Modern Multiple Murderer [Paperback]

Elliott Leyton
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 9 2005
A completely revised and expanded edition of a classic study from the authority on serial killers.

Hunting Humans is Elliott Leyton’s classic study of six of the world’s most notorious serial killers. It established him as a leading authority on one of crime’s most disturbing phenomena and as an expert consultant for the FBI, New Scotland Yard, and Interpol.

Now well into the twenty-first century, the broad social factors Leyton identifies as the breeding conditions for serial killings have only intensified. While mass murderers occupy the role in the public consciousness once held by evil spirits, Leyton looks beyond the hysteria, delving further into the often alarmingly human motivations of multiple killers. He shows how serial and mass murders are not simply the acts of deranged minds but are the personalized protests by alienated men against the society they believe has excluded them. While uncovering the central themes of modern culture that motivated their deeds, Leyton provides portraits of Bundy, De Salvo, Kemper, Essex, Starkweather, and Berkowitz that are as vivid and chilling as ever. This completely updated edition, with more than 50 per cent new material, confirms its place as the foundational work on the subject.

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From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1984, Leyton's pioneering work on the psychology of mass murderers has been updated and revised for this second edition. Clearly written, thoroughly readable and deliberately free of sociological jargon, it is an important contribution to its field and to the public at large, for whom it clarifies a dark and nightmarish phenomenon of our time. Analyzing case histories from Bundy to Berkowitz, Leyton demystifies the mass murderer. He begins with a brilliant description of the foremost serial killer of fiction, Hannibal Lecter, and demonstrates how little he resembles his real-life counterparts. To begin with, there has not been an aristocratic serial killer in centuries; most, says Leyton, are from the working classes. Nor are they diabolical geniuses; rather, they tend to be surprisingly dull-witted. Leyton's contention is that serial killers are not insane, but a product of their environment. They have been with us for centuries, he argues, and tend to come and go cyclically. (Recent research claims that 15% of them are female.) According Leyton, the serial killer sees his act as a form of revenge upon a specific social class that has denied him the social acceptance that he craves. The elements of sadism and sexual pervasion are his means of punishing his supposed persecutors. A professor of anthropology at Memorial University in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Leyton has written a number of books on psychology, and this volume in particular is a most enlightening work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


“Clearly written, thoroughly readable and deliberately free of sociological jargon, [Hunting Humans] is an important contribution to its field and to the public at large.”
Publishers Weekly

“Leyton has become probably the world’s most widely consulted expert on serial killing — his books are required reading for homicide detectives.”
Sunday Telegraph

“Fascinating and thought-provoking.”
Psychology Today

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the minds of serial killers March 18 2004
Elliott Leyton (author) has written a superb detailed book focusing on 6 modern serial killers/modern mass murderers. Edmund Kemper, Ted Bundy (the charming young Republican), Albert Desalvo (the social climber known as The Boston Strangler), David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Mark Essex (the racist) & Charles Starkweather. Leyton also touches upon other 'famous' killers to try and argue his case that all these killers are not alien people with deranged minds, but *'alienated men with a disinterest in continuing the dull lives in which they feel trapped.'(*author's quote). The book tries to go inside these killers minds (and backgrounds) to try and understand why they, as individuals, committed these crimes. Were all their childhood backgrounds so tragic as to contribute towards their eventual decline? If so, why do individuals with equally tragic (or more so) backgrounds choose not to kill? The book also seperates truth from fantasy. What we see in films such as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal etc may all be very compelling action and drama, and highly enjoyable to watch, but we must not make the mistake of believing that these films are based on reality. Leyton has done a thorough job of disecting these cases one by one, and the painstaking research that he has conducted is evident on every page. Buying this book will be well worth your time and money, for it may just be the one book that may well stimulate your thoughts enough to question everything you thought you knew about serial killers.
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Leyton has written a classic study on the rise and motives of serial killers and mass murderers. The new edition of this book originally published in the early 80's includes a discussion of the DC sniper attacks and case studies of various killers including Ted Bundy, the Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo, David Berkowitz aka the Son of Sam, and Mark Essex. Leyton lays out a very convincing argument about the motives behind the killings of multiple murderers. He casts asides psychopathology as the primary reason for their crimes and instead contends that an inability to cope with social position and class consciousness drives these killers.
Leyton views multiple murderers from a sociological rather than a psychiatric standpoint. The evidence underlying his arguments is solid. His main conclusion is that multiple murderers seek to destroy members of a social class secure in its position in the social hierarchy that have excluded him (sometimes her) from their ranks. Bundy, DeSalvo, and the rest belonged to the lower or lower middle classes and despite being superficially accepted by the social hierarchy above them, they were acutely aware of their humble origins and hypersensitive to rejection. In fact, all of the murderers that Leyton discusses in detail spoke greatly at length about wanting to punish the people they felt had rejected them. Though it is hard to imagine that multiple murderers are not psychotic, it appears that not only are they sane for the most part, they have a conscious or subconscious agenda to destroy the people they feel will never accept them.
The case that best exemplifies Leyton's thesis, in my opinion, is the case of Mark Essex. Essex was killed on the roof of a hotel in early January of 1975 after a killing spree that left over 10 people dead.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive study of 6 serial killers July 4 2010
This review is for the hardcover edition of this book measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 and having 313 pages and SADLY no pictures at all.
I can't imagine a non-fiction book on this subject without ANY pictures at all....not that we don't know what these people look like but what does it cost to include a few pages of pictures.
Concise and absolutely copmplete Mr. Leyton delves into the phychological deamons driving serial killers ...and does a supurb job.
The killers covered are...Edmund Kemper 111,Ted Bundy,Albert Desalvo,David..Son of Sam..BerkowitzMark Essex and Charlie Starkweather.
Quite the group and what a story they have to tell.
Abdolutely gripping I read this in 2 days straight.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Work Oct. 18 1998
By A Customer
Whether you are an anthropologist, sociologist, or just plain interested in the serial killer phenomenon, this book is a fascinating analysis. Through examinations of specific cases (Ted Bundy, Charles Starkweather, Albert DeSalvo ("The Boston Strangler"), Leyton provides insight via anthropolgoical theory and psychological profiles. A must for any true crime lover!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Leyton Rocks Feb. 6 2002
By A Customer
This book is a real gem! Not only do the case studies grab you and not let go, you get to see inside the killer's head. Not only is Elliott Leyton write a mean novel he also teaches a super class. He is a prof. at Memorial University of Newfoundland and taking his class was the best thing I ever did. Hunting Humans is the first book of it's kind and stands alone as a cult classic.
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