The Killing Compartments: The Mentality of Mass Murder

Overview


The twentieth century was among the bloodiest in the history of humanity. Untold millions were slaughtered. How people are enrolled in the service of evil is a question that continues to bedevil. In this trenchant book, Abram de Swaan offers a taxonomy of mass violence that focuses on the rank-and-file perpetrators, examining how murderous regimes recruit them and create what De Swaan calls the "killing compartments” that make possible the worst abominations without apparent moral misgiving, without a sense of ...
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Overview


The twentieth century was among the bloodiest in the history of humanity. Untold millions were slaughtered. How people are enrolled in the service of evil is a question that continues to bedevil. In this trenchant book, Abram de Swaan offers a taxonomy of mass violence that focuses on the rank-and-file perpetrators, examining how murderous regimes recruit them and create what De Swaan calls the "killing compartments” that make possible the worst abominations without apparent moral misgiving, without a sense of personal responsibility, and, above all, without pity.
 
De Swaan wonders where extreme violence comes from and where it goes—seemingly without a trace—when the wild and barbaric gore is over. And what about the perpetrators themselves? Are they merely and only the product of external circumstance? Or is there something in their makeup that disposes them to become mass murderers? Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, political science, history, and psychology, De Swaan sheds new light on an urgent and intractable pathology that continues to poison peoples all over the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Ben Kiernan

“A strong, wide-ranging contribution to the field of genocide studies, well worth reading.”—Ben Kiernan, author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300208726
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2015
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author


Abram de Swaan is emeritus university professor of social science at the University of Amsterdam, where he has been a professor of sociology since 1973. He lives in Amsterdam.
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