"So compelling in its exploration of the human psyche, it's as hard to put down as a thriller...such a force of energy, intensity, and straightforwarness.
Fast forward 5 years later, and after going through a harrowing job experience with two people who could star in a movie representation of this book (which, come to think of it, has already been done in a film called SWIMMING WITH SHARKS in the character played by Kevin Spacey), I read it through in a single sitting. Peck so accurately diagnoses the "people of the lie" as being so self-absorbed and narcisistic that they continually make excuses about the abuse they heap upon other people, somehow turning every story 180 degrees in the opposite direction and always claiming victimization when the situation so clearly points to them as the perpetrator. It is a sad indictment of what must be a pandemic within institutions, as these folks clamor and cling to power, money and title oblivious to the human carnage left in the wake of their passing.
But even still, where our hearts are naturally inclined toward revenge, Peck cautions us, coaxing us toward pity for these wretched creatures. He suggests that whatever vile hellaciousness we could dream up as pay back should be tempered with the notion that these folks have consigned themselves to live in a hell of their own making (kind of like Annabella Sciorra in the movie, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME). The dark night of the soul sees their hearts scream out, "I hate you, you're nothing" when the worst some of us deal with is, "Ack... dumb mistake... oh well... keep going."
Bravo... this book rings true, even if it took a second reading. Context is everything!
Peck also discusses the anatomy of group evil, and I found something he wrote eerily prophetic. Keeping in mind the book was published in 1983 (20 years ago), read these words: "Twenty years from now, when Vietnam has been largely forgotten, how easy it will be, with volunteers, to once again become involved in little foreign adventures. Such adventures will keep our military on its toes, provide it with real-life war games to test its prowess, and need not hurt or involve the average American citizen at all until it's too late" (p. 232). Granted, we were attacked, by Osama bin Ladin, but what did Iraq do to us? Can you say "prophet"?