cover image Extraordinary Evil: Why Genocide Happens

Extraordinary Evil: Why Genocide Happens

Barbara Coloroso, . . Nation, $24.95 (248pp) ISBN 978-1-56858-371-6

Placing genocidal campaigns at the extreme on a spectrum of bullying that begins in socialization’s earliest stages, Coloroso (The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander ) seeks to strengthen the legal and moral prevention of genocide and to improve humanitarian intervention. Analyzing the plight of the Armenians; the Jews, Roma and Sinti; and Rwandan Tutsis, she marshals solid studies, victim and perpetrator testimonies, as well as her own expertise as a nationally recognized speaker on conflict resolution. Her discussion of problems of definition, political will, and social and psychological persuasion are useful, but her argument can be tedious, despite graphic and distressing detail. Drawing heavily and only semiconvincingly on her earlier child-centered work, Coloroso has a tendency to rely on Power Point–style lists, brusquely contextualized quotations and even a cartoon-illustrated flowchart of bullies and their enablers. Her generalizations can be disturbing—for example, when she suggests Rwanda’s colonial past plays no role in the current violence, despite contrary arguments from Mahmood Mamdani and others not cited here. Coloroso’s checklist of genocidal prerequisites can also blur into other acts of state-sponsored or condoned aggression and exploitation. This book provides entry into a vital dialogue, but should be considered at best a beginning. (Sept.)