"A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide

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"An angry, brilliant, fiercely useful, absolutely essential book." --The New Republic
From the Armenian Genocide to the ethnic cleansings of Kosovo and Darfur, modern history is haunted by acts of brutal violence. Yet American leaders who vow "never again" repeatedly fail to stop genocide. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, "A Problem from Hell" draws upon exclusive interviews with Washington's top policymakers, thousands of once classified documents, and accounts of reporting from the killing fields to show how decent Americans inside and outside government looked away from mass murder. Combining spellbinding history and seasoned political analysis, "A Problem from Hell" allows readers to hear directly from American decision-makers and dissenters, as well as from victims of genocide, and reveals just what was known and what might have been done while millions perished.
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About the author

Samantha Power, currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, served from 2009 to 2013 as the Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council. She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Harvard Kennedy School and is also the author of Chasing the Flame: Sergio Viera de Mello and the Fight to Save the World--the basis for the award-winning HBO documentary, Sergio--and the co-editor of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World. A former Balkan war correspondent and a recipient of the National Magazine Award and the Pulitzer Price, Power lives in New York City.
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Reviews

4.2
13 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
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Published on
May 14, 2013
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Pages
640
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ISBN
9780465050895
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / General
Political Science / International Relations / General
Social Science / Violence in Society
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Philip Gourevitch
An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.

This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Philip Gourevitch his title.

With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.

Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Christopher R. Browning
Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of  moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.

“A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek

 


 

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