Similarities of Soldiering and Selling
The Psychological Cost of
Learning to Kill in War and Society
by Dave Grossman
I read this book and I review it here not because of any particular interest in sanctioned killing, rather because of my interest in institutional means of getting people to do difficult yet important tasks. I train salespeople and other business leaders.
I first heard the author, Dave Grossman, on a radio interview promoting this book. I heard him say that that in the history of combat from Alexander the Great through World War II only about 15% of soldiers in battle were trying to kill the enemy. He’s not talking about the long administrative and logistical tail of the army. Only 15-20% of the people with guns or swords in their hands, who were facing a threatening enemy, were willing to kill that enemy. I know this is hard to believe. I first heard this statistic from a pacifist and I called him a liar. Then I heard it from this author, a former US Army Colonel and military historian, who references the research of the US Army’s official W.W.II historian as well as many other scholars.