A Father's Story

Front Cover
W. Morrow & Company, 1994 - Fathers - 255 pages
On July 23, 1991, Milwaukee chemist Lionel Dahmer discovered - along with the rest of the world - that his son Jeffrey was a murderer who, over a period of many years, had carried out some of the most ghastly crimes ever committed in the United States. These crimes were so grisly that for a time Dahmer entered a world of complete denial - first convinced that Jeff was innocent, then later that he had been no more than the tool of some other, far more evil human being. But as the evidence accumulated, it became clear that Jeffrey Dahmer had acted alone and that the "evil" that had compelled him was far more disturbing than any Lionel Dahmer might have imagined. As the trial progressed, and the crimes of his son were graphically detailed, Lionel Dahmer began to place himself in the dock beside his son. In the torturous weeks following Jeff's conviction, he continued descent toward that harrowing point at which the line of his own life inevitably intersected with his son's. In doing so, he completed the darkest journey ever made by a stricken father - one that ultimately led one painful step at a time from his initial denial to a final admission of shattering intensity. A Father's Story cannot claim to have discovered the ultimate solution to the enigma of either the criminal or his deeds. It is, in fact, not the story of Jeffrey Dahmer at all, but of a father who, by slow, incremental degrees, came to realize the saddest truth that any parent may ever know: that following some unknowable process, his child had somewhere crossed the line that divides the human from the monstrous. This memoir is not a refutation of charges, an attempt to change the record. It is both a touching familymemoir and a haunting confession - the searing account of a man who never relented in his effort to fathom the deepest quarters of his son's affliction, even as they pointed to his own. It is an important document on the nature of fatherhood, the origins of madness, and the role of kinship in the legacy of evil.

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