Genocide: the systematic annihilation of a group of people for simply being who they are, whether in ethnic, religious or social terms. It has been with us since the beginning of history. The most widely-studied and catastrophic examples are, however, historically close: the Nazi Holocaust against the Jew, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and tribal warfare in Rwanda. Genocide is unfortunately a key feature of the study of world history at nearly every level. The Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity spans the globe to explain the issues behind crimes against humanity and human rights issues as they relate to individual countries and the world at large. It traces the history of events that qualify as genocide and crimes against humanity, profiles perpetrators and heroes, and explains international laws and law proceedings aimed at ending genocide and crimes against humanity at specific groups or at least punishing those who have committed such crimes.
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*Starred Review* This outstanding comprehensive sourcebook of the worst in human behavior throughout history also includes instances of some of the best responses. It is aimed at the adult general reader but will be valuable for both specialists and older students studying the destruction of a people. The editor and contributors are broadly representative of academic experts around the world, and some of them have had extensive involvement with the subject.
The 350 signed, well-documented entries, varying from 500 to 5,000 words, as appropriate, are arranged alphabetically. The topics comprise the diverse aspects of crimes against humanity--acts and consequences, cultural memory and representation, international institutions and laws. Each article is well written, balanced (such as the entry on the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps), and includes see also references and a bibliography. The set covers judicial decisions and events as recent as mid-2004. There is some overlap (for example, in treating different aspects of the crimes in the Balkans), but each entry is fresh and shows careful editing.
Every continent and likely every people have had their share of the crimes, and while the impact of the Nazi Holocaust drives much of the work, the editorial team has cast its net wide, encompassing, for example, less-known crimes against the Beothuk people in Newfoundland and Labrador. Birth and death dates of persons and specific dates of the crimes are given. Entries cover ancient and modern genocides, perpetrators and Victims, incitement and resistance, denial and documentation, international tribunals and national trials, and cultural aspects, such as the ways in which genocide intersects with music and dance. The work includes separate two-page entries on the atrocities at Carthage, Srebrenica, and Wounded Knee as well as concise biographies for individuals ranging from Klaus Barbie, chief of the gestapo in France, to Louise Arbor, chief prosecutor for the International Tribune for the Former Yugoslavia. Concluding the set are a glossary, an excellent filmography, 190 pages of primary sources (historical and international texts and judicial decisions), and an accurate index, which is supplemented by a topical list of entries. Black-and-white photos convey some of the horror of what humanity has wrought. The layout of this very accessible work is noteworthy.
The Encyclopedia of Genocide (ABC-CLIO, 1999) emphasizes the Nazi Holocaust and does not aim to cover the entire history and range of genocides. The new work has twice the number of pages and is larger in physical size. It will be the standard resource for many years. Arthur Meyers
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