Andrew Vachss

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Andrew Vachss

Andrew Henry Vachss (October 19, 1942 – December 27, 2021) was an American crime fiction author, child protection consultant, and attorney exclusively representing children and youths.


  • My goal was not to raise consciousness, but to raise anger. Ours is a country where anything can be accomplished if enough people get angry... because, in America, we act on our collective anger. If you want proof of how that works, just take a look at how New York State finally closed the hated (and virtually unknown) 'incest exception.
  • In his autobiography, former President Bill Clinton credits [Andrew] Vachss with [writing the National Child Protection Act] and notes how important it was to him and wife Hillary. But there's a catch, according to Vachss: 'It's never been funded.'
    • July 14, 2005, in Ohio's ThisWeek
  • Journalism is the one thing that protects us. There's a history of crusading, let–the–chips–fall–where–they–may journalists. But that's given way to 'advocacy journalists,' who have left– or right–wing biases. That doesn't make sense. The only thing a journalist should worship is the truth.
    • Duane Swierczynski's entire interview with Andrew Vachss, originally published July 7, 2005, in the Philadelphia CityPaper.
  • [A]nybody who has served in combat in any way understands that words are weapons. And I'm in a war. The war hasn't stopped. I've always used the books as a blunt instrument."
    • Dan Webster interview, originally published June 19, 2005, by the Spokesman Review,
  • [C]an you be noble as you practice violence, extortion, blackmail, even mass murder? The struggle to be free from oppression is, in my mind, per se noble. But noble causes attract a wide range of participants, and many would fall far short of nobility
  • We don't distinguish between the various forms of child abuse. Emotional abuse ... is pretty much ignored. When someone spends their life being told, 'You're stupid, you're a disgrace, I should have aborted you, you ruined my life,' it scars them in ways that are almost impossible to describe with words. And yet, such a person describing their life would be told, 'Oh, you weren't an incest victim? Oh, you weren't burned with cigarettes? So, how abused were you really?
    • Patty Satalia WPSU on October 24, 2004 [
  • I promise you, there are people in America whose only problem with the Taliban is that they did it for the wrong god. Whether it's incest, rape, terrorism or Nazism, it's all the same thing—accumulating and abusing power.
    • New York Post on April 11, 2004.
  • I don't love kids. I hate their predators. It's a burning hatred I feel to this day.
    • Michael Heaton Cleveland Plain Dealer on March 6, 2003
  • When someone asks me, 'Why do you write comics?' I tell them, for the same reason I write editorials, essays, and articles; the same reason I give speeches; the same reason I appear on TV programs, and give interviews. Same message; different forum. There is no universal forum, so the more outreach we can do, the better the chance of forming coalitions.
    • Borderline, January 2003
  • I don't believe this country will ever come to grips with child abuse until they make the obvious, simple connection between today's victim and tomorrow's predator. As long as they believe a Ted Bundy or a John Wayne Gacy is a biogenetic mistake as opposed to a beast that was built and a monster that was made, they'll continue to blithely walk around, saying, 'I'm against child abuse.'"
    • Todd Taylor's interview October 23, 2001, on
  • Plenty of states, like Florida, still don't have [law guardians]. What does that tell you? Because with non-attorney guardians there's no attorney-client privilege. There's no ability to cross–examine witnesses, to subpoena evidence, to appeal. Basically you serve completely at the pleasure of the judge. And if you don't please the judge, you're history. What more of a message do kids need?"
    • Tom McPheeters and Ellen Becker's interview as published by the Journal For Living, Number 21, 2000.
  • Our reasons for critiquing the [child protection] system [are] pointless. To analyze the system and point out what's wrong with it, without the power to alter it, is masturbatory. The whole concept behind analysis is the concept behind consciousness–raising. Which is, if I show you that something is terrible, you will do something about it. That's not reality. Reality is, it's about power. It's not about education, and knowledge is not power.
    • Trey Bundy as published on on December 4, 2000.
  • The child most at risk [to be accessed by a predatory pedophile] is the child not bonded deeply to anything or anybody. Children who are most deeply bonded with parents, parents who are protective, it's almost like, I don't know if you've seen predatory animals that put a kind of smell on their young to protect them? Okay? I think your 'luck' was much more likely due to your parent[s] than it was to any blind confluence of the planets.
    • Spence Abbott in a two–part interview, published on in November 2000
  • It's an extremely profitable thing to be 'concerned' about drugs. You don't just have treatment programs, you have law enforcement programs, you have entire industries that could not function but for drugs. Including the prison industry. I think America has gone psychotic ... there are human beings—even as we speak—dying, in the kind of shrieking, tormenting pain you couldn't inflict on a P.O.W., because America doesn't want them to be drug addicts.
    • Pete Humes' interview Punchline in October 2000.
  • Everything that's in [my] books comes out of what I've seen, or touched, or felt, or smelt, and if I had one wish it would be that the books were fiction.
    • Dave Thompson interview
  • My position on pornography is quite simple. You can argue about Penthouse or Playboy or things of that ilk. But child pornography, a picture of a child engaged in a sexual act, is a photograph of a crime and you cannot argue about that. It is, per se, illegal, illicit and immoral. It is unfortunate that my work is taken up by people with whom I am not allied.
    • 1988 interview with Andrew Vachss, published in the January '89 issue of The Face
  • "I think that what drives the American public, which is like a huge, lumbering beast, is anger; and the other thing that drives it is self–interest. What I'm trying to do in my books is different from other people writing about child abuse. I'm not trying to engender sympathy so much as to say to the public, 'Today's victim is tomorrow's predator.' The things that you fear have a genesis, and the price of being safe in this world is early intervention. It costs you something to look away, not just in moral terms, but in practical terms."
    • Crime Times, Nov./Dec. 1988
  • If you look at Burke closely, you'll see the prototypical abused child: hypervigilant, distrustful. He's so committed to his family of choice—not his DNA-biological family, which tortured him, or the state which raised him, but the family that he chose—that homicide is a natural consequence of injuring any of that family. He's not a hit man. But he shares the same religion I do, which is revenge.
    • Andrew Vachss, Horror Online, May 1999.
  • There's a very specific formula for creating a monster. It starts with chronic, unrelenting abuse. There's got to be societal notification and then passing on. The child eventually believes that what's being done is societally sanctioned. And after a while, empathy – which we have to learn, we're not born with it – cracks and dies. He feels only his own pain. There's your predatory sociopath." That's why Vachss posed for a recent publicity photo cradling his pit bull puppy. "You know what pit bulls are capable of, right?" he asks, referring to the animal's notorious killer reputation. "But they're also capable of being the most wonderful, sweet pets in the world, depending on how you raise them. That's all our children."
    • Unleashing the Criminal Mind," San Francisco Examiner, July 12, 1990.

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