Bad Faith

(Nonfiction; Jonathan Cape/U.K.; Knopf/U.S., 2006)

At the time of this writing, climbing the bestseller charts is the thriller Hannibal Rising, Thomas Harris’s biography of his character Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s early years. It was part of John Milton’s genius first to know that people love to imagine what makes a villain; the birth of evil is seductive stuff. There are few true villains in real life, and of course the story of their lives is never as simple as a lone fall from grace: villains are products of their families and of their time, and their tales often serve as a lens to magnify the most destructive elements of any given time and place in history.

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