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Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killingby James Waller
Synopses & Reviews
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 (booknews.com)
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
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
What Our Readers Are Saying