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Book Review: Extreme Violence

Extreme Violence Book, clear.jpgExtreme Violence: Understanding and Protecting People from Active Assailants, Hate Crimes, and Terrorist Attacks. By Phuong Nguyen, Michael Dorn, and R. Leslie Nichols. Cognella;; 520 pages; $109.05

The related subjects of workplace violence, school violence, domestic violence in the workplace, violence at religious facilities, healthcare violence, and highly publicized mass attacks that injure, kill, and terrorize our employees and citizens have become standard concerns for security practitioners. Like sexual or racial harassment in the workplace, we have policies, management responses, HR procedures, investigative protocols, training, and employee awareness and notification systems in place. The possible life and death situations around the workplace or mass public violence call for these now-standard requirements and responses in our organizations, law enforcement agencies, and communities.

These types of violence used to be thinly covered by specialty-publisher books and college textbooks. They are now common subjects for security-related books that focus on one or many of these areas. Extreme Violence: Understanding and Protecting People from Active Assailants, Hate Crimes, and Terrorist Attacks is a book in the latter category. It’s a big book—a compendium covering 500 pages and with 19 full chapters inside four parts.

The three lead authors, plus 10 contributing authors, offer a useful mix of work and research experience—many of them with backgrounds in law enforcement, security, and the military, and can boast much training and response work in the United States and overseas. Their collaboration has created a useful book for security practitioners, violence researchers, college instructors, and presenters who need recent and thorough research to improve their knowledge or for training programs on violence awareness, response, and prevention strategies.

The book’s four parts start with a deep dive into “Extreme Violence,” covering mass murderers, hate crimes, and domestic and international terrorism. These chapters discuss the weapons and methodologies of terrorists and security’s particular challenges to protect critical infrastructures and transportation modalities from physical and cyberattacks.

The second part covers the “Prevention of Extreme Violence” through physical and electronic security vulnerability assessments. These chapters provide hazard mitigation advice using CPTED and target hardening methods. This section also provides a useful discussion of threat assessment and threat management methods, looking at the behavioral indicators of potential and actual violence perpetrators.

“Preparedness and Response to Extreme Violence” focuses on emergency preparedness, scene responses, and the need for training (both inside facilities and as part of community awareness and resiliency building). This includes dealing with anonymous threats and a discussion of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) approach. To the authors’ credit, if it’s bad and can be done to one or more people, it’s covered in this book.

The final part of the book focuses on “The Aftermath of Extreme Violence,” with chapters on investigating attacks, post-incident management, and post-incident reviews—including a helpful discussion on minimizing the risks of litigation after an attack.  The final chapter discusses the need to build and support “organizational resilience” before, during, and after any serious attack.

Extreme Violence is well-researched, cited and indexed effectively, and is easy to both read and study. There are ample charts, photos, and case studies, making the book a welcome addition to the range of textbooks on violence in our society. It’s a thorough book for security practitioners, college course instructors, and readers who want to know how and why attackers seek to disrupt, injure, and kill.


Reviewer: Dr. Steve Albrecht, CPP, is a 25-year member of ASIS, specializing in training, research, and writing on workplace violence, school violence, domestic violence, and threat assessments. He has written 24 books on leadership, security, firearms, and police issues. He can be reached at