Synopses & Reviews
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's books are events. They stir passionate public debate among political and civic leaders, scholars, and the general public because they compel people to rethink the most powerful conventional wisdoms and stubborn moral problems of the day. Worse Than War
gets to the heart of the phenomenon, genocide, that has caused more deaths in the modern world than military conflict. In doing so, it challenges fundamental things we thought we knew about human beings, society, and politics.
Drawing on extensive field work and research from around the world, Goldhagen explores the anatomy of genocide — explaining why genocides begin, are sustained, and end; why societies support them, why they happen so frequently and how the international community should and can successfully stop them.
As a great book should, Worse than War seeks to change the way we think and to offer new possibilities for a better world. It tells us how we might at last begin to eradicate this greatest scourge of humankind.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Grisly specifics share space with an insightful, often startling analysis of why mass murder occurs and how to stop it.... A significant achievement — rarely encouraging, but intensely researched and wholly original.Kirkus Reviews
"[A] magisterial and profoundly disturbing "natural history" of mass murder." New York Times
A paradigm-changing investigation into the phenomenon of genocide and mass killing, by the author of the number one international bestseller Hitler's Willing Executioners.
Goldhagen's books compel people to rethink their most powerful conventional wisdoms. Worse Than War gets to the heart of genocide, and, in doing so, challenges fundamental ideas people think they know about human beings, society, and politics.
About the Author
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, born 1959, grew up in the Boston area. He was a political science professor at Harvard for many years, teaching courses on a range of subjects, including European politics, democracy, and genocide. In 1996 he published Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, which was an international bestseller that won him Germany's Democracy Prize, given only every three years, for his singular contribution to German democracy.