Cover image for Evil : an investigation
Evil : an investigation
Morrow, Lance.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 276 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
The globalization of evil -- Humor's cousin -- A current through the world -- Why do they do it? -- The hermit's tale -- A catastrophic education -- The axis of wrong -- Sarajevo : lex talionis -- The rifleman's dilemma -- Jean Valjean at Wendy's -- Visigoths in the brain -- The axe in space -- What have children to do with it? -- The triumph of Goneril and Regan -- Tu quoque -- The rattlesnake in the mailbox -- Permissible evil -- Taking responsibility for the regime -- Office malignities -- The consolations of literature -- Us and them -- The face's secrects -- Club med for monsters -- Sade, Cobain, and the pleasures of evil -- Gormets and monkey brains -- The limits of silence -- The argument from design -- It is always a story -- The lessons of Mein Kampf -- What Nachtwey sees -- The quest for purity -- The foses lose heart -- Czerniakow's choice -- Hope.
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Subject Term:
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1401 .M66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Long couched only in theological terms, and popularly personified by the despots of history, the nature of evil has resisted explanation. In this singular survey of this mysterious but all too often palpable force, veteran Time magazine writer Lance Morrow examines the unmistakable ways evil influences our global culture-and how that global culture in turn has magnified evil's menace. Its dramatic reemergence in the national consciousness-against a backdrop of high-tech, sensationalized violence-makes his updated understanding both timely and absolutely necessary.Drawing on examples both obscure and splashed across the headlines, Morrow seeks to understand how evil works, and what purpose, if any, it serves. From the heartrending to the harrowing, from quiet lies to catastrophic acts, his stories are drawn from over thirty years of experience as a revered journalist and essayist. The result is a brilliant synthesis of a lifetime of observation that elegantly illuminates a chronically elusive but fascinating subject.

Author Notes

Lance Morrow joined Time in 1965 and still contributes essays to the magazine. He has also contributed to Harper's, Civilization, and many other magazines. He is a University Professor at Boston University, where he teaches American presidential history and essay writing, and lives in upstate New York

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Morrow, a columnist with Time magazine, offers a compelling look at how our concepts of evil have changed over the ages, influenced by literature, history, culture, technology, and, of course, religion. He explores the elusive qualities of evil and how difficult it is to define. He avows that most of us would apply Justice Potter Stewart's test of pornography--we know it when we see it. Morrow recalls evil deeds and doers from Caligula to Hitler and the Holocaust to the terrorism and axis of evil that is President Bush's current focus. Evil is most often closely identified with the other, leading to violence against women accused of witchcraft or ethnic minorities. Drawing on stories he has heard or covered as a reporter, including conversations about serial killers and shocking discoveries about the neighbors next door, Morrow examines the subject on micro and macro levels, as a part of human nature, as a necessity for providing the world's narrative energy, and as a counterpoint to good. Morrow's writing is elegant and conversational, like talking to a thoughtful, learned friend as he discusses how concepts of evil have evolved through history, politics, literature, and mundane daily life. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Heart, a memoir centering on his heart attacks, Morrow asked questions about the nature of evil as it relates to illness and death. This foray into evil generally is a thing of snippets rather than sustained case building. Morrow, author of more than 150 Time cover stories, begins by responding to a variety of events, some of them on the scale of the Holocaust and September 11, others more modest, such as several particularly gruesome murders and the shootings at Columbine, trying to grasp where evil inheres. He then wanders through a mass of heartfelt but turgid sentiments, from which it is possible to extract a few conclusions about his opinions: evil exists; people may be evil; deeds may be evil even when people are not; there are degrees of evil, great and small, justifiable and unjustifiable. Franz Fanon's liberation-through-violence ideology and the cult of the Marquis de Sade are evil, for Morrow, and so are thinkers who praise either. And so on. The book rises above this level occasionally, as in his portrait of several individuals who resist classification, and supports another conclusion: that we have to talk about evil. At other times, Morrow descends to the level of mere name-dropping, as in his portrayal of a Stockholm conference on international violence. One can extract from this book a reasonably favorable opinion of Morrow's thoughtfulness and personal ethics, but he does not offer much exploration in the direction of possible solutions, nor has he been rigorous in sifting his reflections for lucidity. Anybody who wants to keep up on impassioned screeds in pop ethics will find something to like here, but much religious thought on the matter, to take one example, goes undiscussed. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 The Globalization of Evilp. 15
2 Humor's Cousinp. 21
3 A Current Through the Worldp. 26
4 Why Do They Do It?p. 34
5 The Hermit's Talep. 39
6 A Catastrophic Educationp. 45
7 The Axis of Wrongp. 49
8 Sarajevo: Lex Talionisp. 57
9 The Rifleman's Dilemmap. 74
10 Jean Valjean at Wendy'sp. 89
11 Visigoths in the Brainp. 95
12 The Axe in Spacep. 101
13 What Have Children to Do with It?p. 113
14 The Triumph of Goneril and Reganp. 125
15 Tu Quoquep. 134
16 The Rattlesnake in the Mailboxp. 144
17 Permissible Evilp. 149
18 Taking Responsibility for the Regimep. 157
19 Office Malignitiesp. 163
20 The Consolations of Literaturep. 167
21 Us and Themp. 175
22 The Face's Secretsp. 179
23 Club Med for Monstersp. 186
24 Sade, Cobain, and the Pleasures of Evilp. 199
25 Gourmets and Monkey Brainsp. 208
26 The Limits of Silencep. 218
27 The Argument from Designp. 227
28 It Is Always a Storyp. 231
29 The Lessons of Mein Kampfp. 236
30 What Nachtwey Seesp. 241
31 The Quest for Purityp. 245
32 The Foxes Lose Heartp. 251
33 Czerniakow's Choicep. 255
34 Hopep. 259
Indexp. 267