School Shooters: Understanding High School, College and Adult Perpetrators​ by Peter Langman

Genres:  Non-fiction, True Crime, Psychology
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publication Date: January 15th 2015


Langman examines 48 different perpetrators and analyzes their mental state as well as the events and actions leading up to their attack. While comparing and contrasting different attackers Langman also offers insight on how such attacks could be prevented.

Langman covers a large number of shooters in order to have a large and diverse sample to work with. It does feel as though this forces him to avoid giving any case too much depth. There are cases that have much less information released but are given the same number of pages as attacks with many more documents released to the public.

Langman’s description of events, environment and social situations are thorough. However, his descriptions of the actual attacks are often very brief, in fact, sometimes the attack itself is barely touched upon. It feels strange to describe home lives of the attackers as in depth as possible but then give a single sentence to their actions during their actual rampage – it seems like a person’s actions during an attack should be crucial when determining their mental state.

Langman offers a diagnosis after profiling every shooter labelling them as psychotic, psychopathic or traumatized. It feels rather repetitive after the first three or four cases as during profiling he has often already stated what signs and symptoms would lead him to such a diagnosis.

Langman’s book is no doubt invaluable for anyone looking to write a paper on the subject of school shooters or to study cases. Everything written is well cited, there are several graphs and tables compiled to organize data such as the average number of victims in correlation to perpetrator age. The notes take up an impressive 60 pages so it would be easy to find the original source of any minor fact included in this book.

For those looking for a pleasurable true-crime-esque read though this definitely falls short. It’s very clinical in tone and far more suited to be used as source material for an academic than a book for a curious reader just wanting to know more about certain crimes.


Read this if you’re a fan of: A Mother’s Reckoning


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