Adrian Raine’s The Anatomy of Violence is possibly the most informative book I have ever read about criminal behavior. The deeper I got into the book the more I realized that I do not think about criminal behavior nearly as dynamic as it deserves. I do not honestly believe that there is another book out there that brings together so much useful information about antisocial behavior. Raine uses his extensive and admirable academic career to mention an exhaustive list of studies on the subject of criminal behavior, including studies that have shown a trend between fish-eating countries and their lower overall violence.
Raine makes a very powerful argument throughout the book that you cannot ignore the biological basis for crime, and to cement this argument he discusses studies that have explored genes, neuroanatomy, and the autonomic nervous system in those prone to criminal behavior. But to add to this, Raine helps to destroy the long standing barrier that is often reinforced between nature and nurture, and discusses how the role of the environment is heavily implicated because it interfaces with a person’s biology, at all levels. Many in the sciences now shun the nature v. nurture over-simplistic dichotomy, and Raine helps us to see how in understanding the criminal mind this dichotomy can only hinder our understanding of human behavior.
But the thing I like the most about this book, is that Raine does not stop once he’s fully indicted Biology. He goes on to discuss curing crime, what it means to bring biological knowledge to the courtroom, and in a very powerful section at the end he discusses measures that could be taken in order to seriously reduce and perhaps even eliminate crime altogether. Although, you should be warned – you will be lured into what many would consider an Orwellian nightmare, only to have your rationale for opposing his ideas gently pulled away.
This is a serious must read for anyone interested in how criminals come to be and why they continue to do what they do.