On Killing Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Dave Grossman (author)
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. In regards to war, what group of people does Grossman say in Chapter 1 is most distanced in their decision-making?

2. What term arose in the early 1990's to describe the new fighting techniques seen in the Gulf War?

3. In terms of effective leadership, what disadvantage do mercenaries and gang leaders have?

4. At the end of Chapter 4, what physical reaction to exhaustion and hunger does Grossman cite?

5. According to Grossman in Chapter 2, who is often given the cold shoulder in the military?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the silent conspiracy does Grossman discuss in Chapter 4?

2. Why does the Vietnam Vet quoted in Chapter 7 choose to leave the army after six tours?

3. In Chapter 4, what philosophical and literary justifications for killing does Grossman cite?

4. What role does enemy morale play in the choice to kill?

5. What options are open to soldiers in combat?

6. Describe the Vietnam story of Chapter 4.

7. What surprising fact regarding soldier's fears in combat is revealed in Chapter 2?

8. What are the primary components of Exhaustion as outlined in Chapter 3?

9. How was the Roman centurion model more effective than the Greek phalanx, according to Grossman?

10. What does hard-to-soft mean?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Much of the book is dedicated to the vast majority of soldiers that are naturally resistant to killing, but Grossman indicates that a small number of soldiers feel no remorse after killing. Write an essay about these natural warriors. What do they all have in common? How are their lives generally similar, and how do they interact with less aggressive combatants around them? What separates a natural warrior from a psychopath?

Essay Topic 2

In the first half of the book, Grossman discusses the gap in psychiatric casualties between combatants and noncombatants. Write an essay about this gap. What did the military predict regarding psychiatric casualties among the civilian population affected by bombing in World War II? Why does Grossman expect that these estimates proved to be wrong? Why did psychiatric casualties prove higher among civilians in concentration camps? What does all of this say about proximity and killing as factors in psychiatric casualties?

Essay Topic 3

At one point in ON KILLING, Grossman describes the roots of fear and group bonding that can lead to an atrocity like the My Lai massacre. Write a three-part essay on the factors that lead to an atrocity in war, using My Lai as a framing device:

Part 1) How does fear of an unseen enemy make atrocities more likely in war? Discuss the way in which this creates emotional distance between noncombatants and soldiers. How does a catalyzing event, like an attack on the unit, further increase the likelihood of this sort of atrocity?

Part 2) What form of empowerment is felt in an atrocity? Discuss how the active and powerful decision to kill those whom one suspects of complicity in suffering can empower a soldier. What sort of possible catharsis can occur as a result?

Part 3) Discuss the group cohesion that can occur as a result of an atrocity? How does killing unarmed noncombatants bond a group of soldiers together? Conversely, discuss how the decision not to take part in an atrocity becomes dangerous as a result of this cohesion.

(see the answer keys)

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