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Life Arts

Six Years Ago: Jenny Diski Writes About Stanley Milgram's Torture Experiments

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Jenny Diski's new book, What I Don't Know About Animals, will be out this fall. She is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books. A previous article at OEN by Diski can be found by clicking here; and two previous OEN Quick Links by her can be found by clicking here and here. Note that the Quick Link URLs link directly to the LRB.

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Jenny Diski

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The book which Ms. Diski reviewed in the November 18, 2004, issue of the London Review of Books was: The Man who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram by Thomas Blass, Basic Books (2004).

The text of the review follows:

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"Stanley Milgram's series of experiments to find out how far individuals would go to obey authority are legendary. Conducted in New Haven, Connecticut in 1961, they have been cited in manuals written by dog trainers (Bones Would Rain from the Sky by Suzanne Clothier) and self-help pundits (The Necessary Disobedience by Maria Modig, dedicated to Milgram), as well as being the source for a Peter Gabriel song entitled 'We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)'. A French punk rock group called Milgram put out a CD called Vierhundertfunfzig Volt (450 Volts). A British band called Midget issued The Milgram Experiment. Plays have been written (Dannie Abse's The Dogs of Pavlov was the first, in 1973); a stand-up comedian, Robbie Chafitz, called his 1999 weekly off-off-Broadway performances The Stanley Milgram Experiment; a French movie with Yves Montand, I comme Icare, made in 1979, came out of it, with Milgram himself pictured on the set; and a textbook used in courses on business ethics cites the obedience experiments to warn students about the evil things their bosses might ask of them and how to resist. I can't say about the dog-training or self-help books, but this last educational effort doesn't seem to have worked.

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 

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