Review by Choice Review
Blass (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County) created an extremely readable book by combining an interesting biography with a thorough, but not technical, review of Milgram's work in social psychology. Blass has the credentials and experience to write such a book: a social psychologist, he has conducted several empirical experiments on Milgram's obedience experiments and has also written on the implications of these experiments and Milgram's life's work. Whereas the book's title (a reference to the fake shock generators used in the obedience experiments) might lead one to expect that the volume treats only the obedience experiments, fortunately Blass gives significant space to Milgram's other work in social psychology: attitude measurement using the lost-letter technique, "city psychology," cyranoids, and small-world studies (the basis for the "six degrees of separation" idea). In addition to providing a lively and interesting biography, Blass presents the experimental studies in ways that not only will be accessible to the layperson but also provide fresh insights to readers knowledgeable about social psychology. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All readers; all levels. W. A. Ashton CUNY York College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In the early 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted a series of famous experiments proving that average citizens would readily inflict painful electric shocks on strangers if they were instructed or encouraged to do so by an authority figure. This biography by University of Maryland professor Blass provides a valuable examination Milgram's work and his contributions to the field of social psychology. Blass discusses Milgram's education and career choices from the mid-1950s to the '70s. He talks at length about the scientist's training and experiences at Queens College and at Harvard, and about his teaching and research appointments at universities such as Princeton, Yale and the City University of New York. He describes in great-at times exhausting-detail the controversial experiments Milgram devised and conducted over the years. And he considers how Milgram's research changed the way "we think about...the role of moral principles in social life." Milgram's personal life, however, gets the short shrift in this narration. References to the psychologist's use of cocaine, marijuana and mescaline are brief and undeveloped; mentions of his wife, Sasha, and their children, Michele and Marc, seem somewhat perfunctory. This inattention to matters of personality may limit the book's audience. But, as the first comprehensive biography of Milgram, Blass's study nonetheless remains an important contribution to the field of science history. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Review by Library Journal Review
Social psychologist Blass (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore) presents this first biography of his prominent forbear, Stanley Milgram (1933-84), whose ingenious, controversial research demonstrated that people can abandon their own moral judgment when carrying out the orders of an authority figure. Vividly portrayed here, these obedience studies address the Holocaust, war crimes, and the "sheep" mentality, which are still timely and relevant issues. Though his obedience research made him famous, Milgram's career path was bumpy, taking him from Yale to Harvard to CUNY, where he taught from 1967 until his fatal heart attack at 51. Blass acknowledges Milgram's weakness as a theoretician but argues persuasively that he was a genius. He originated the "six degrees of separation" idea, conducted other imaginative research, and excelled as a teacher, writer, and filmmaker. Through contacts with Milgram's colleagues, students, friends, and family, Blass portrays a warm family man, brimming with curiosity and creativity, who was also quirky and sometimes harsh with his students. Among the best biographies of psychologists, this book illuminates research with enough depth and clarity to suit historians, social scientists, and general readers. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.