The Evil That Men Do

The Evil That Men Do


Born of a preoccupation with saints and sinners, The Evil That Men Do is Brian Masters' investigation into the nature of good and evil, and the different ways in which they can be manifested. It examines the fundamental questions of why we are as we are: why we are good, why we care for one another, why we can be altruistic and kind as well as selfish and cruel.

According to science, we are prisoners of our genetic inheritance. Are our impulses therefore to some extent inescapable, compelling us to behave in a certain manner, irrespective of the guidelines imposed by instinct or civilization? Or can we determine our individual patterns of behaviour? Do we really have a choice?

Using a diverse multitude of examples, from St. Francis of Assisi, Audrey Hepburn, Bruce Chatwin and Bob Geldof to the Marquis de Sade, Adolf Hitler and Peter Sutcliffe, from the Spanish Inquisition to Nazi Germany to the Vietnam War, Brian Masters examines this age-old yet intensely contemporary subject. At a time when civilization seems on the verge of meltdown, he has produced an incisive, thoughtful and provocative meditation on a fundamental human question.


  • A welcome link in the chain of understanding: a work of ambition and complexity underpinned by an obvious desire to grasp the fundamental nature of ourselves
    John Stalker, Sunday Times

About the author

Brian Masters

Brian Masters has written over twenty books on subjects as diverse as French literature, the dukedoms in Great Britain, E.F. Benson and Marie Corelli. His groundbreaking study of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen, Killing for Company, won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction in 1985. He is also highly regarded for his journalism.
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