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Seductions of Crime

May 14, 2012

This post is apropos of nothing, I just happened to be thinking of this book, which I read (twice) many years ago. Seductions of Crime: Moral and Sensual Attractions in Doing Evil was written by Jack Katz, a sociologist at UCLA, and published in 1990. The first three chapter titles are “Righteous Slaughter”, “Sneaky Thrills”, and “Ways of the Badass.” I do not suppose I really need to write much more; the book is, to use a phrase from blogger Tyler Cowen, self-recommending.  Katz brings a phenomenological approach to the study of crime, trying to get at the actual thoughts, feelings, and desires that move through people in the course of criminality, motivating them to be so very bad. Extensive first-hand accounts are quoted. It is very serious in intellectual intent while still being quite vividly written, unclogged by excessive
academicisms. A good read for you and, given to the right person, a very cool gift.

For a contrary opinion, see the Amazon review by a certain “youngblood hawk”, who calls it the “worst book ever written” and who may have been more persuasive had he been less hyperbolic. No one is going to believe that Seductions  is worse than Supreme Cat, the memoir (presumably ghostwritten over one sleepless, drug-fueled weekend by a junior law clerk) of Warren Burger’s calico, Buns.  It could hardly be worse than Ayn Rand’s novelization of On Golden Pond or Wilt Chamberlain’s 20,000 Limericks of Love (though the edition with Robert Nozick’s annotations is frustratingly difficult to refute) or I Am Charlotte Simmons. On the other hand I would not call it the best book ever written. That would be The Tao Is Silent by Raymond Smullyan.

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