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One does not simply review a book like this without pausing – for one moment – to appreciate the attention-grabbing power of its title. A moment of silence, please.

[crickets]

Good? Good. Oh, and any pacifists who may be reading this are welcome to the smelling salts; just look in the cabinet on the left. Good? Good. You’ll need them again before I’m finished.


The Little Black Book of Violence is written by two guys who know what they’re talking about. A strange (some would say silly) observation, perhaps, but one I believe is worth making. These men have experience. (One could say they have ‘a history of violence,’ but I think that conveys the wrong idea.) This isn’t just a bunch of theory for them; it’s down-to-earth, nitty gritty, keep-your-head-from-getting-torn-off practical. And that’s Reason #1 why they deserve a hearing.

The book is divided into three sections. The first (Before Violence Occurs) details the importance of identifying and avoiding conflict to begin with. According to the authors, “fighting is what you do when you’ve totally screwed up your self-defense.” Concepts like awareness and de-escalation are given plenty of attention, with the aim of convincing you that such skills are even more vital than whatever butt-kicking skills you have or think you have.

Of course, if you are forced into a fight, you should be prepared to do just that: fight. Teddy Roosevelt’s advice comes to mind: “Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.” The second section (During a Violent Encounter) focuses on a series of self-defense tips and techniques. Nothing fancy, just no-nonsense advice on how to keep the other dude from stomping a mud-hole through your face. It’s an insightful read, but there’s only so much you can explain on paper, and it’s difficult to practice the techniques unless you’re working with a trainer. (My siblings weren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of being subjected to a neck joint crush. Go figure.)

The final section (Aftermath of Violence) is probably the most sobering, as the authors make it clear that surviving a violent encounter is only the beginning. After that, you’ve got another battle to fight: legal, physical, psychological, financial, or a combination of all four. Topics like first aid, creating witnesses, and talking to the police are discussed here.

In the end, what Kane and Wilder manage to do – very effectively, I might add – is deglamorize violence and make it seem very uncool. Necessary in certain cases? Yes. Something to be engaged in lightly? Not on your life.

– Corey p.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that this book does contain a smattering of language and some graphic images (most of these are related to the aftermath of violent encounters, but there is one partial nude shot). This isn’t a book for youngsters by any stretch of the imagination.

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Published on 23 August, 2013. Last updated on

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Into the Book was born out of a crazy idea of a blog that'd provide book reviews for teens. There aren't very many book review websites out there exposing awesome, high-quality Christian literature, and there are even fewer that target teenagers. Since 2009, we've been providing high-quality book reviews to the world through our blog. Into the Book has grown around reviews since then, but it remains our oldest project.

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