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Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing


Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Political or social groups wanting to commit mass murder on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious differences are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. In Becoming Evil, social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil.

Waller debunks the common explanations for genocide — group think, psychopathology, unique cultures — and offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these extraordinary acts can emerge. Illustrative eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter.

An important new look at how evil develops, Becoming Evil will help us understand such tragedies as the Holocaust and recent terrorist events. Waller argues that by becoming more aware of the things that lead to extraordinary evil, we will be less likely to be surprised by it and less likely to be unwitting accomplices through our passivity.

Book News Annotation:

Having previously addressed specific prejudices concerning race, Waller (social psychology, Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington) outlines an explanation of extraordinary human evil in more general terms. He considers the wide range of factors involved in the process of ordinary people coming to commit extraordinary evil.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Table of Contents

' Preface: \"I Couldn\'t Do This to Someone\"

Part 1: What Are the Origins of Extraordinary Human Evil?

Introduction: A Place Called Mauthausen

1. The Nature of Extraordinary Human Evil

\"Nits Make Lice\"

2. Killers of Conviction: Groups, Ideology, and Extraordinary Evil

Dovey\'s Story

3. The \"Mad Nazi\": Psychopathology, Personality, and Extraordinary Evil

The Massacre at Babi Yar

4. The Dead End of Demonization

The Invasion of Dili

Part 2: Beyond Demonization: How Ordinary People Commit Extraordinary Evil

A Model of Extraordinary Human Evil

5. The Nature of Human Nature: Our Ancestral Shadow

The Tonle Sap Massacre

6. Defining the Killers: Identities of the Perpetrators

Death of a Guatemalan Village

7. Immediate Social context: A Culture of Cruelty

The Church at Ntamara

8. Defining the \"Other\": Social Death of the Victims

The Safe Area of Srebrenica

Part 3: What Have We Learned and Why Does It Matter?

9. Conclusion: Can We Be Delivered from Extraordinary Evil?

Genocide Warning: Sudan


Product Details

How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing
Waller, James
null, James
Oxford University Press
New York
Psychology, Social.
Edition Number:
Series Volume:
v. 1
Publication Date:
August 2002
Grade Level:
8 halftones, 5 line illus.
6 x 9.2 x 1.1 in 1.513 lb

Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology
History and Social Science » Sociology » Crime

Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing
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Product details 336 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195148688 Reviews:
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