Worse than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Author . Public Affairs $29.95 (658p) ISBN 978-1-58648-769-0

Goldhagen expands the controversial argument of his bestselling Hitler's Willing Executioners to indict the world in this relentless j'accuse . His comparative study surveys a panorama of modern atrocities, encompassing the Holocaust, the Soviet gulag, Cambodia, the Rwandan and Darfur genocides, and even Harry Truman, a “mass murderer” who “should be put in the dock no less than Stalin [and] Pol Pot” for the atomic bombing of Japan. Goldhagen's elaborate concept of “eliminationism,” complete with a two-dimensional matrix of “Types of Excess Cruelty” (is the action ordered or not? individually or collectively performed?) is similarly broad, comprising massacres along with nonlethal expulsions and repressions; in his hectoring, incantatory prose (“Think of hearing your victim's screams as you hack at or 'cut' her and then cut her again, and again and again”), it's less a theory than a nomenclature for cataloguing human devilry. As in Executioners , Goldhagen convincingly disparages bureaucratic “banality of evil” explanations of genocide and spotlights the ideologies of leaders who exploit ordinary citizens' hate-filled beliefs to instigate mass murder. It's not easy reading, but Goldhagen's vehemence and the sheer weight of horrors that he recounts move one's conscience. Photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/14/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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