The Trigger

Narratives of the American Shooter

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About The Book

Six moving profiles reveal the complex realities behind gun violence in the United States. These are the stories of the shooters.

In South Carolina, a young man embarks on a life of crime that culminates in a drug-related shooting and decades in prison; in Chicago, an off-duty police officer engages in a shootout with a murderous gunman, saving a fellow patrolman; in rural Tennessee, a troubled teenager shoots her abusive father in his sleep. The Trigger recounts the dramatic life stories of six individuals who have shot someone in America.

In 2017, over 15,000 were killed and over 31,000 were injured by gunfire. Faced with these desensitizing statistics, one easily forgets that each incident is perpetrated by a living, feeling human being who has walked a unique path. The causes and consequences of these violent acts are often far more complicated than one might expect.

Author Daniel J. Patinkin exhaustively interviewed each of six shooters about their life experiences and about the unique circumstances that compelled them to use a firearm against another person. The result is a series of profound narratives that is sure to distress and challenge the reader, but also, perhaps, to provide enlightenment and inspiration.

About The Author

Daniel Patinkin is a Chicago-born writer and businessman. His unique career has spanned the real estate, finance, education, and entertainment industries. He earned a BA in English and history from Indiana University and an MFA in producing from the University of Southern California. The Crippler is his first book.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Arcade (June 2018)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781628729207

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Raves and Reviews

A provocative, sometimes maddening, occasionally riveting examination of the lives of six ordinary Americans who share the experience of having shot someone. . . The roughly 43 victims of gun violence every day [in the United States] were killed by the kind of people profiled by Patinkin. . . . Each story is self-contained but also illuminates the broader issues surrounding gun violence.”— Washington Post

"Patinkin writes about these lives with bracing empathy, and he clearly engaged the trust of his subjects, whose perspective on their crimes is filled with horror and regret. . . [He] has told us six stories that no one else would. He acknowledges that he is in no way trying to overlook the central tragedy of the victims and their families, but he tries his best to force readers to realize that these shootings aren’t just random events, but a result of real troubles within the shooters and the society that produces, and generally ignores, them." —Chicago Tribune

“A moving exploration of gun violence . . . With a distressing and challenging set of narratives, Patinkin gives a rare account of the perpetrator's perspective.”—oxygen.com, “5 True-Crime Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring”

"We need stronger conversations around gun violence, and The Trigger is an interesting place to start.—giggles.com and att.net, "11 True Crime Books That'll Give You Goosebumps and Keep You Up All Night"

"An extraordinary read from first page to last, The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter will prove to be a welcome, thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to the present national dialogue over the role of guns in our contemporary American society. . . . Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues collections, and deserving of as wide a readership as possible,"—Midwest Book Review

“Timely . . . His narratives, each complex in its own thorny way, humanize shooters for those who, like Patinkin before he embarked on this project, have had no previous exposure to them as people.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a great look at guns, the people that have had to shoot someone, and how it has affected their lives. This is a wonderful book . . . and one that I recommend everyone to read.."—jbronderbookreviews

“Patinkin illuminates hard truths about American society that are not evident in commonly cited statistics or partisan talking points. The narratives challenge the reader to critically examine his or her own beliefs, and to either reaffirm them or abandon them. This is a powerful and unique contribution to the dialogue about gun violence in the United States.”—Andrew Yang, author of The War on Normal People and 2020 US presidential candidate

"Patinkin dives behind the headlines to reveal the fine details of the lives of his subjects. He humanizes them through his meticulous investigative process and offers a compelling and gripping work that explores gut-wrenching social issues. Anyone seeking to understand gun violence in America needs to read this intense, intimate book." —Tony D'Souza, author of Mule

The Trigger is a raw and unflinching look at America's gun violence epidemic. Patinkin weaves us through the complicated and emotional backstories that propel people into shootings. This is a sobering and important book.” —Jooyoung Lee, gun violence expert and author of Blowin' Up

A provocative, sometimes maddening, occasionally riveting examination of the lives of six ordinary Americans who share the experience of having shot someone. . . The roughly 43 victims of gun violence every day [in the United States] were killed by the kind of people profiled by Patinkin. . . . Each story is self-contained but also illuminates the broader issues surrounding gun violence.”— Washington Post

"Patinkin writes about these lives with bracing empathy, and he clearly engaged the trust of his subjects, whose perspective on their crimes is filled with horror and regret. . . [He] has told us six stories that no one else would. He acknowledges that he is in no way trying to overlook the central tragedy of the victims and their families, but he tries his best to force readers to realize that these shootings aren’t just random events, but a result of real troubles within the shooters and the society that produces, and generally ignores, them." —Chicago Tribune

“A moving exploration of gun violence . . . With a distressing and challenging set of narratives, Patinkin gives a rare account of the perpetrator's perspective.”—oxygen.com, “5 True-Crime Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring”

"We need stronger conversations around gun violence, and The Trigger is an interesting place to start.—giggles.com and att.net, "11 True Crime Books That'll Give You Goosebumps and Keep You Up All Night"

"An extraordinary read from first page to last, The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter will prove to be a welcome, thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to the present national dialogue over the role of guns in our contemporary American society. . . . Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues collections, and deserving of as wide a readership as possible,"—Midwest Book Review

“Timely . . . His narratives, each complex in its own thorny way, humanize shooters for those who, like Patinkin before he embarked on this project, have had no previous exposure to them as people.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a great look at guns, the people that have had to shoot someone, and how it has affected their lives. This is a wonderful book . . . and one that I recommend everyone to read.."—jbronderbookreviews

“Patinkin illuminates hard truths about American society that are not evident in commonly cited statistics or partisan talking points. The narratives challenge the reader to critically examine his or her own beliefs, and to either reaffirm them or abandon them. This is a powerful and unique contribution to the dialogue about gun violence in the United States.”—Andrew Yang, author of The War on Normal People and 2020 US presidential candidate

"Patinkin dives behind the headlines to reveal the fine details of the lives of his subjects. He humanizes them through his meticulous investigative process and offers a compelling and gripping work that explores gut-wrenching social issues. Anyone seeking to understand gun violence in America needs to read this intense, intimate book." —Tony D'Souza, author of Mule

The Trigger is a raw and unflinching look at America's gun violence epidemic. Patinkin weaves us through the complicated and emotional backstories that propel people into shootings. This is a sobering and important book.” —Jooyoung Lee, gun violence expert and author of Blowin' Up

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