THE SPECTER OF GENOCIDE: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective

Robert Gellately, Editor, Ben Kiernan, Editor . Cambridge Univ. $60 (406p) ISBN 978-0-521-82063-9

While this is definitely a collection of distinguished scholars writing for other scholars, the editors, historians at Clark and Yale respectively, bring together a cogent group of perspectives on the history and causes of mass murder. The University of Minnesota's Eric Weitz makes a persuasive case that the peculiar 20th-century combination of mass society, technology and racist ideologies has made genocide so much easier than in previous centuries that it has become both more pervasive and more destructive, looking to those who engage in it as an easy way out. "Genocides of Indigenous People," by Claremont Graduate University's Elazar Barkan contains many insights on the question of inherited collective guilt, as well as good historical summaries. Of the less theoretical historical narratives, some cover well-trodden ground but with clarity and vigor, including studies of the Holocaust and Yugoslavia. Others present examples of genocide not commonly known, such as the Indonesian slaughter of the population of East Timor and the U.S.-backed government of Guatemala's war against its Mayan population. Particular distinction belongs to the summary of Rwanda, extraordinarily informative for its brevity. In both introduction and afterword, the editors emphasize the necessity of broad but informed definitions of genocide as essential in raising barriers against it. (June)

Forecast: While annotations and bibliography serve to guide educated lay readers to more accessible sources, this is not the place for lay readers to begin inquiries, and the book's price definitely aims it toward libraries. Still, as a distillation of the most recent thinking, it can be recommended as a companion to classic titles like Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Show other formats
Hardcover - 408 pages - 978-0-511-06176-9
Paperback - 396 pages - 978-0-521-52750-7
Ebook - 406 pages - 978-0-511-05543-0
Book - 978-0-511-81967-4
Open Ebook - 408 pages - 978-1-280-16256-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.