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Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Edited by: Dinah L. Shelton, Editor in chief

Howard Adelman, Frank Chalk, Alexandre Kiss & William A. Schabas - Associate Editors

Published by Macmillan Reference USA

October 2004


Genocide has been with us since the beginning of history and is a key feature to the study of world history at nearly every level. The most widely-studied and catastrophic examples are, however, historically close to the present day: the Nazi Holocaust, "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia, tribal warfare in Rwanda and more. The Encyclopedia 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. It also delves into depictions and manifestations of the phenomenon, such as propaganda, sociological and philosophical explanations, literature and film.



"While the German Nazi regime may have been the most notorious perpetrators of crimes against humanity, their genocidal tendencies are by no means unique in human history. In only the 60 years since the conclusion of World War II, the world has witnessed government-sanctioned campaigns to eliminate ethnic, religious or political groups in Cambodia, East Timor, El Salvador, Argentina, Uganda, Rwanda, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. Ongoing discrimination in Burma, Chechnya, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Tibet may be viewed in a similar fashion.

This groundbreaking encyclopedia makes a comprehensive survey of the issues surrounding genocide. From torture and war crimes to ethnocide and linguistic genocide, the forms of persecution are examined. Also defined are such ideas as intent, complicity and incitement. Instruments of abuse may range from concentration camps, gas chambers, ethnic cleansings and massacres to famine, film, radio and residential schools. Also explored are the methods for investigating, documenting and prosecuting such actions. Equally important are the laws, international conventions and agencies that seek to prevent acts of genocide. From Hitler, King Leopold II and Talaat to Wiesel and Wiesenthal, biographical entries describe the activities of the worst perpetrators as well as the efforts of those who have sought to bring such criminals to justice. The Holocaust receives extensive attention, but so too do other modern atrocities.

Coverage is not limited to the modern era, but includes discussions of Rome's treatment of Carthage, the campaigns of Genghis Khan, the Spanish Inquisition and the Atlantic slave trade. Other essays examine the question of whether the definition of genocide applies to the forced removal of Native Americans or the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Also explored is the susceptibility to abuse of such groups as women, children, homosexuals or the disabled. Finally, other scholars explore the sociology and psychology of victims, perpetrators and survivors. From the Supreme Court decision on the Amistad slave captives to the prosecution of Serbian war criminals, a selection of historical documents trace the extension of protections to civilian populations in international law. Though scholarly in its approach, this set is highly recommended for high school, academic and public libraries."
--Reviewed by John Lawrence, Oneota Reading Journal, September 2005