The Lucifer Effect

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You may or may not have heard of the author, but you almost certainly heard of the Stanford prison experiment at one point or another. This is where a college professor hired students to role play bodyguards and inmates in the '70s. That college professor was Philip Zimbardo. If you didn't learn about the story, this book is a great start. The research it presented was interesting, and the author did a great job explaining it. But it was a bit on the long side.

The author presents very important concepts in psychology. He explains them very well and does a great job of relating these concepts to explanations of real-world events.  Furthermore, he does so in a way that is easily understandable. 

I cannot overemphasize how important the concepts presented in this book are to understanding real-world events, both past and present. Concepts such as group think, cognitive dissonance, and the psychology of leadership are all explored in great detail. Such topics are often overlooked and/or poorly understood by those of us reading newspaper articles wondering "what the hell was this person thinking!!!". Mr. Zimbardo definitely explains it all...and I mean it all.

He  documents his own famous experiment at Stamford, day-by-day. This took a good chunk of the book. He explains the more recent issues at Abu Ghraib prison and who he believes it's to blaim. He describes the most famous, most important and controversial psychological experiments of the last century. All in fine detail. It's definitely an interesting perspective, but resulted in the book being the longest one I've ever listened to. 

This book is almost 27 hours. It probably could have been shorter. I had to put it on double speed several times to get through it in somewhat of a reasonable amount of time. This backfired a few times as I had to go back and replay some sections to better understand them. But I'd probably still be listening to the book if I didn't. Nevertheless, I would still recommend it.

At the risk of being inconsistent, I will recommend this book in spite of it's tremendous length, and periodic repetitive nature. The reason is because I strongly feel that knowledge of the concepts and research covered are absolutely crucial in understanding real-world events happening in the world right now, as well as understanding pretty much most of the events that have unfolded in the last century, if not beyond.

Therefore, I recommend trucking through this book. It's well worth your while if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition, especially as it relates to what's happening around the world.