The book features an extensive look at how hundreds of the worst crimes of the past six decades are different in quality than the crimes of prior eras as a result of a variety of changing sociological and psychological factors.
In his professional life, Brucato, a Middle Village resident, studies violence as it pertains to psychosis. In the context of his work, he began developing an interest in how to distinguish people who commit the crimes because of serious psychiatric illness versus those with psychopathic traits who commit the acts for pleasure due to the lack of a basic moral compass.
After doing research on the topic, Brucato connected with Stone, who had just been asked to write a followup to his classic book, “The Anatomy of Evil.” In “The Anatomy of Evil,” Stone explores the concept and reality of evil from a new perspective.
Stone created a 22-point scale that’s used to look at different motives of crimes, ranging from understandable crimes like self-defense to crimes that are done for no reason but for selfish pleasure, such as torture. The scale looks only at cases that occur in peacetime, since people are sometimes capable of horrible crimes in wartime that they would otherwise be less likely to commit.
Brucato and Stone worked on “The New Evil” for 14 months. Responsible for the first half of the book, Brucato uses case examples from the last 60 years that help understand and distinguish between the different types of crime on the 22-point scale, including serial killing, mass murder, spree murders, sex crimes and other atrocities.
Stone, meanwhile, looks at cultural changes and explains why certain crimes that are high on the scale are happening more than ever since the 1960s. The authors also explain, based on statistical data, that these specific crimes are far more prevalent in the United States.
The book indicates that the 1960s served as a cultural tipping-point, after which certain types of violent crime have emerged.
“We meticulously looked at crime across the centuries and it became very clear that some crimes only happened since the 1960s because the technology wasn’t available earlier,” Brucato said. “For example, the technology for semi-automatic firearms for the general public wasn’t available until the 1960s. There were school shootings that have happened since the 1840s, we traced back to every one of them, but they became very frequent with a large number of victims increasingly since the 1960s.”
The book also identifies how committing crimes evolved from an act of opportunity to acts far more perverse.
“Before, in previous eras, you committed crimes for practical reasons, like kidnapping someone for money,” Brucato said. “But from the 1960s onwards, there was an element of crime that had more to do with personal gratification.”
In 1968, physician Gary Krist kidnapped a woman and held her ransom for financial reasons, but he then went on to bury her alive for a long period of time. Burying her was unnecessary; Krist only did it for his own pleasure.
“That’s an example of crime in what we call the era of ‘New Evil,’” Brucato said.
When researching, Stone and Brucato found that some of these crimes arose out of anger that certain men had towards women in the wake of the sexual revolution between the 1960s and 1980s.
“It had a lot to do with brittle men who were angry that women had rights and didn't have to be with them,” Brucato said. “A lot of them developed an attitude of ‘well, I’m going to take what I want,’ and you see this explosion of rape, serial killing and so on.”
“That sort of aggression towards women is just as prevalent, it’s changed its look, but it really hasn’t gone away,” he added. “Since about 2000, instead of the aggression taking the form of serial killing, what you’re seeing is very powerful men who are getting in trouble for sexual aggression towards women, such as with the #MeToo movement. That’s another variation on the same theme.”
They found that as serial killing decreased in frequency, there has been a rise in mass murder incidents, with large numbers of lives lost.
Stone and Brucato looked at hundreds of case examples for the book, including famous cases such as serial killer John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown, and mass shooters such as Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer. But the authors also wrote about many killers the public seems not to have heard of. For instance, while the authors reference Ted Bundy several times, they also discuss lesser-known, but especially terrible sadistic killers, such as Albert Fish, a serial killer who captured, raped and ate children, David Parker Ray and Robert Berdella.
“We wrote about a lot of people that many people have not heard of, purposely,” Brucato said. “We felt that people become immune to the horrors of a case when they hear about it frequently.”
The book also examines the emotional reaction that leads people to call certain acts “evil:” acts that shock and horrify. They also explore why psychology and psychiatry could struggle when it comes to certain cases since a case may not easily fit into a definitive category, when specific motive is not considered or understood.
“The book gives insight that you can’t find anywhere else,” Brucato said.
The afterword was written by Dr. Ann Burgess, a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist who developed modern psychological profiling for sexual crimes among serial killers and pioneered assessing and treating trauma in rape victims. Burgess, who is the inspiration behind one of the main characters on Netflix’s “Mindhunter,” also collaborated with Brucato and Stone to define some categories of crime within the book.
“It was very emotionally difficult to write,” Brucato added. “Dr. Stone and I really had to look evil in the eye and without flinching, look at the motives of the people and describe their crimes without watering them down. It’s not easy but somebody had to do it.”
“The New Evil” will be released in bookstores and online on March 5 but you can also pre-order it. It’s worth reading if you’re interested in history, crime, mystery and psychology. Furthermore, the book has already garnered a lot of interest online.
The book has been praised by Burgess, along with other leading experts, including Dr. Otto Kernberg, Dr. Michael First, serial killer expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland, retired NYPD homicide detective and sex crime expert Vernon Geberth, and FBI serial killer profiler John Douglas, the basis for another central character on “Mindhunter.” They majorly praised the book as groundbreaking.
“The book raises the question of why is culture getting more coarse?” Brucato asked. “As people are getting coarser and more narcissistic and more aggressive, so are the criminals.”