A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation / Edition 1

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Overview

"Why did the twentieth century witness unprecedented organized genocide? Can we learn why genocide is perpetrated by comparing different cases of genocide? Is the Holocaust unique, or does it share causes and features with other cases of state-sponsored mass murder? Can genocide be prevented?" "Blending gripping narrative with trenchant analysis, Eric Weitz investigates four of the twentieth century's major eruptions of genocide: the Soviet Union under Stalin, Nazi Germany, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and the former Yugoslavia. Drawing on historical sources as well as trial records, memoirs, novels, and poems, Weitz explains the prevalence of genocide in the twentieth century - and shows how and why it became so systematic and deadly." This book offers some of the most absorbing accounts ever written of the population purges forever associated with the names Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Milosevic. A controversial and richly textured comparison of these four modern cases, it identifies the social and political forces that produce genocide.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
University of Minnesota history professor Weitz offers a sobering comparative study of four of the past century's genocidal regimes: Stalin's Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Cambodia under Pol Pot and Bosnia in the 1990s. (While acknowledging that the Holocaust was unprecedented, Weitz explicitly rejects the notion that it was "unique" and incomparable to other genocides.) Weitz begins with a tightly argued account of how Enlightenment thought, together with 19th-century romanticism's nostalgia for an imagined and innocent past, combined to provide the intellectual underpinning for the growth of nationalism and racism, which provided the 20th-century engine for state-organized genocide. Weitz then explores the historical precedents in each country, providing context for a comparison of how each government accomplished its horrific goals. There is much new in Weitz's analysis and his isolation of the common mechanisms of state-sponsored genocide is an invaluable contribution to the literature on the subject, such as his discussion of the prevalence of one-on-one brutality in the cases of Serbian, Nazi and Cambodian atrocities. The descriptions of the mechanisms for the purges, specifically how each government made large sections of their population complicit in the crimes, is chilling. Despite its analytical and reasoned approach, this work cannot be read without feeling outrage, despair and horror. Weitz's work raises profound questions about the human capacity for violence. (Apr.) Forecast: Readers of Samantha Power's "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide will want to read Weitz's study. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Choice
Weitz has produced something exceedingly rare: a scholarly book one cannot put down. This is a meritorious, thoughtful book.
Perspectives on Politics
Weitz makes a persuasive case that these genocides were not simply anarchic eruptions of age-old hatreds, but rather were engineered by crisis-ridden regimes promoting utopian visions requiring a radical refashioning of the population.
— Martin Farrell
Times Higher Education Supplement
A Century of Genocide has much to offer. It will serve as an excellent first introduction to Lenin and Stalin's crimes, the Holocaust, the Cambodian massacres of the 1970s and the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia.
— Brendon Simms
International Journal
"A] book that must be read and that must be argued over. Without an understanding of the issues [it] tackle[s] with passion and in depth, the desire to intervene—to prevent ethnic cleansing or genocide—is meaningless.
— Rima Berns-McGown
Slavic Review
This important, highly thoughtful book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on genocide in the twentieth century. It deserves a wide audience among scholars, undergraduates, and policy makers. Broad ranging, genuinely comparative, rigorous, and learned, A Century of Genocide is engagingly written, while prudent and balanced in its judgments.
— Frank Chalk
The New Leader
An important, thought-provoking book on an inordinately complex subject.
— Gavriel Rosenfeld
The New Leader - Gavriel Rosenfeld
An important, thought-provoking book on an inordinately complex subject.
Perspectives on Politics - Martin Farrell
Weitz makes a persuasive case that these genocides were not simply anarchic eruptions of age-old hatreds, but rather were engineered by crisis-ridden regimes promoting utopian visions requiring a radical refashioning of the population.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Brendon Simms
A Century of Genocide has much to offer. It will serve as an excellent first introduction to Lenin and Stalin's crimes, the Holocaust, the Cambodian massacres of the 1970s and the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia.
International Journal - Rima Berns-McGown
""A] book that must be read and that must be argued over. Without an understanding of the issues [it] tackle[s] with passion and in depth, the desire to intervene—to prevent ethnic cleansing or genocide—is meaningless.
Slavic Review - Frank Chalk
This important, highly thoughtful book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on genocide in the twentieth century. It deserves a wide audience among scholars, undergraduates, and policy makers. Broad ranging, genuinely comparative, rigorous, and learned, A Century of Genocide is engagingly written, while prudent and balanced in its judgments.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2003

"There is much new in Weitz's analysis and his isolation of the common mechanisms of state-sponsored genocide is an invaluable contribution to the literature on the subject. . . . Despite its analytical and reasoned approach, this work cannot be read without feeling outrage, despair and horror. Weitz's work raises profound questions about the human capacity for violence."—
Publishers Weekly

"An important, thought-provoking book on an inordinately complex subject."—Gavriel Rosenfeld, The New Leader

"Weitz has produced something exceedingly rare: a scholarly book one cannot put down. This is a meritorious, thoughtful book."—
Choice

"Weitz makes a persuasive case that these genocides were not simply anarchic eruptions of age-old hatreds, but rather were engineered by crisis-ridden regimes promoting utopian visions requiring a radical refashioning of the population."—Martin Farrell, Perspectives on Politics

"A Century of Genocide has much to offer. It will serve as an excellent first introduction to Lenin and Stalin's crimes, the Holocaust, the Cambodian massacres of the 1970s and the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia."—Brendon Simms, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A] book that must be read and that must be argued over. Without an understanding of the issues [it] tackle[s] with passion and in depth, the desire to intervene—to prevent ethnic cleansing or genocide—is meaningless."—Rima Berns-McGown, International Journal

"This important, highly thoughtful book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on genocide in the twentieth century. It deserves a wide audience among scholars, undergraduates, and policy makers. Broad ranging, genuinely comparative, rigorous, and learned, A Century of Genocide is engagingly written, while prudent and balanced in its judgments."—Frank Chalk, Slavic Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691009131
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric D. Weitz is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, where he holds the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts and directs the Center for German and European Studies. He is the author of "Creating German Communism, 1890-1990" (Princeton).
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
An Armenian Prelude 1
Introduction: Genocides in the Twentieth Century 8
Ch. 1 Race and Nation: An Intellectual History 16
Ch. 2 Nation, Race, and State Socialism: The Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin 53
Ch. 3 The Primacy of Race: Nazi Germany 102
Ch. 4 Racial Communism: Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge 144
Ch. 5 National Communism: Serbia and the Bosnian War 190
Conclusion 236
Notes 255
Bibliography 311
Acknowledgments 339
Index 343
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