Why Not Kill Them All?: The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder (New in Paper)

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Overview

What dark impulses can justify the eradication of thousands or even millions of unarmed people? This question lies at the heart of Why Not Kill Them All? In it, Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley not only explore the motives and psychological underpinnings of genocide, but also offer historical and comparative context.

Rather than suggesting that such horrific acts are the product of disturbed minds, the authors emphasize the normality of genocide: killing by category has occurred on every continent and in every century. But throughout history, human societies have also developed techniques aimed at limiting intergroup violence. Might we, through studying these grisly episodes from our past, prevent future tragedies?

In a new preface, the authors discuss recent mass violence and reaffirm the importance of education and understanding in the prevention of future genocides.

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Editorial Reviews

Chronicle of Higher Education
What to do [about genocide]? Can we eliminate love, laughter, or any other human impulse as enduring as the hunger to kill all one's enemies? . . . Few university-press books organize a topic so persuasively that, in a just world, they should contribute to the founding of a discipline, or at least a staple course. Why Not Kill Them All? does just that. As the children of foreign elites attend our universities, the thought that they might read this book, or take such a course, comforts. It does not completely reassure. Chirot and McCauley offer important wisdom—that is, when you think about mass murder rationally.
— Carlin Romano
Political Science Quarterly
Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley, in their superbly written book, rhetorically ask why a dominant group with overwhelming power would engage in genocide of its weaker rivals, and having established reasons for fratridcidal frenzies, they proceed to lay out measures that could prevent such human rights catastrophes.
— Dipak Gupta
American Journal of Sociology
Why Not Kill Them All? is an erudite intellectual achievement that synthesizes extant knowledge and adds to the surprisingly scarce literature on this topic. . . . [Chirot and McCauley] provide a breathtaking historical overview.
— Juan Díez Medrano
Perspectives on Politics
The greatest strength of Why Not Kill Them All? is its broad historical literacy, drawing examples from the Bible, eleventh-century England, czarist Russia, nineteenth-century United States, and well-known cases from the last century. Chirot also displays deep personal knowledge of the violent, interethnic dynamics in the less bloody but more recent civil war in Ivory Coast.
— Alan J. Kuperman
International Journal on World Peace
Daniel Chirot's professional role as a professor of sociology and international studies places him in an excellent position to examine the patterns of mass violence. Similarly, Clark McCauley's study of ethnic conflict and work as a psychology professor provide a necessary lens through which to view and analyze the prevention of mass murder. The perspectives of this book add pertinent insight to the existing literature on genocide.
— Rachel Ray Steele
Canadian Journal of Sociology
Well written, interesting, informative, and balanced. Students in an introductory course in ethnic conflict in sociology, political science, or social psychology will find it helpful.
— Djordje Stefanovic
Patterns of Prejudice
Why Not Kill Them All? provides a valuable analysis of causes, conditions and strategies for the prevention of genocide and opens up an intriguing area for further work.
— Benjamin Lieberman
Chronicle of Higher Education - Carlin Romano
What to do [about genocide]? Can we eliminate love, laughter, or any other human impulse as enduring as the hunger to kill all one's enemies? . . . Few university-press books organize a topic so persuasively that, in a just world, they should contribute to the founding of a discipline, or at least a staple course. Why Not Kill Them All? does just that. As the children of foreign elites attend our universities, the thought that they might read this book, or take such a course, comforts. It does not completely reassure. Chirot and McCauley offer important wisdom—that is, when you think about mass murder rationally.
Political Science Quarterly - Dipak Gupta
Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley, in their superbly written book, rhetorically ask why a dominant group with overwhelming power would engage in genocide of its weaker rivals, and having established reasons for fratridcidal frenzies, they proceed to lay out measures that could prevent such human rights catastrophes.
American Journal of Sociology - Juan Diez Medrano
Why Not Kill Them All? is an erudite intellectual achievement that synthesizes extant knowledge and adds to the surprisingly scarce literature on this topic. . . . [Chirot and McCauley] provide a breathtaking historical overview.
Perspectives on Politics - Alan J. Kuperman
The greatest strength of Why Not Kill Them All? is its broad historical literacy, drawing examples from the Bible, eleventh-century England, czarist Russia, nineteenth-century United States, and well-known cases from the last century. Chirot also displays deep personal knowledge of the violent, interethnic dynamics in the less bloody but more recent civil war in Ivory Coast.
International Journal on World Peace - Rachel Ray Steele
Daniel Chirot's professional role as a professor of sociology and international studies places him in an excellent position to examine the patterns of mass violence. Similarly, Clark McCauley's study of ethnic conflict and work as a psychology professor provide a necessary lens through which to view and analyze the prevention of mass murder. The perspectives of this book add pertinent insight to the existing literature on genocide.
Canadian Journal of Sociology - Djordje Stefanovic
Well written, interesting, informative, and balanced. Students in an introductory course in ethnic conflict in sociology, political science, or social psychology will find it helpful.
Patterns of Prejudice - Benjamin Lieberman
Why Not Kill Them All? provides a valuable analysis of causes, conditions and strategies for the prevention of genocide and opens up an intriguing area for further work.
American Journal of Sociology - Juan Díez Medrano
Why Not Kill Them All? is an erudite intellectual achievement that synthesizes extant knowledge and adds to the surprisingly scarce literature on this topic. . . . [Chirot and McCauley] provide a breathtaking historical overview.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2006

"What to do [about genocide]? Can we eliminate love, laughter, or any other human impulse as enduring as the hunger to kill all one's enemies? . . . Few university-press books organize a topic so persuasively that, in a just world, they should contribute to the founding of a discipline, or at least a staple course. Why Not Kill Them All? does just that. As the children of foreign elites attend our universities, the thought that they might read this book, or take such a course, comforts. It does not completely reassure. Chirot and McCauley offer important wisdom—that is, when you think about mass murder rationally."—Carlin Romano, Chronicle of Higher Education

"Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley, in their superbly written book, rhetorically ask why a dominant group with overwhelming power would engage in genocide of its weaker rivals, and having established reasons for fratridcidal frenzies, they proceed to lay out measures that could prevent such human rights catastrophes."—Dipak Gupta, Political Science Quarterly

"Why Not Kill Them All? is an erudite intellectual achievement that synthesizes extant knowledge and adds to the surprisingly scarce literature on this topic. . . . [Chirot and McCauley] provide a breathtaking historical overview."—Juan Díez Medrano, American Journal of Sociology

"The greatest strength of Why Not Kill Them All? is its broad historical literacy, drawing examples from the Bible, eleventh-century England, czarist Russia, nineteenth-century United States, and well-known cases from the last century. Chirot also displays deep personal knowledge of the violent, interethnic dynamics in the less bloody but more recent civil war in Ivory Coast."—Alan J. Kuperman, Perspectives on Politics

"Daniel Chirot's professional role as a professor of sociology and international studies places him in an excellent position to examine the patterns of mass violence. Similarly, Clark McCauley's study of ethnic conflict and work as a psychology professor provide a necessary lens through which to view and analyze the prevention of mass murder. The perspectives of this book add pertinent insight to the existing literature on genocide."—Rachel Ray Steele, International Journal on World Peace

"Well written, interesting, informative, and balanced. Students in an introductory course in ethnic conflict in sociology, political science, or social psychology will find it helpful."—Djordje Stefanovic, Canadian Journal of Sociology

"Why Not Kill Them All? provides a valuable analysis of causes, conditions and strategies for the prevention of genocide and opens up an intriguing area for further work."—Benjamin Lieberman, Patterns of Prejudice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691145945
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Chirot is the Job and Gertrud Tamaki Professor of International Studies and professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Clark McCauley is the Rachel C. Hale Professor of Science and Mathematics and codirector of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and founding editor of "Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict: Pathways toward Terrorism and Genocide".

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: Are we Killers or Peacemakers? 1

Chapter 1 Why Genocides? Are they Different Now than in the Past? 11

The Four Main Motives Leading to Mass Political Murder 19

Are Modern Genocides and Ethnic Cleansings Different? Retribalization and the Modern State 45

Chapter 2 The Psychological Foundations of Genocidal Killing 51

How to Get Ordinary People to Become Butchers 52

Organization 57

Emotional Appeals: Leaders and Followers 58

Essentializing Others 81

The Dangerous Similar Others 87

The Conditions of Genocide 90

Chapter 3 Why is Limited Warfare More Common than Genocide? 95

Weighing the Costs of Genocidal Conflicts 97

Limiting the Damage of Warfare 99

Exogamy: Making the Enemy Part of the Family 103

Establishing Codes of Warfare and Exchange to Limit Violence 111

Are Rules of Exogamy, Codes of Honor, and Potlatching Still Relevant? 116

The Mercantile Compulsion 121

Morality and Modesty: Rejecting Certitude 134

Yearning for Solutions 147

Chapter 4 Strategies to Decrease the Chances of Mass Political Murder in Our Time 149

State Policies that Reduce Hostility between Groups 155

Limiting Demands for Justice and Revenge 180

Modest Solutions and Small-Scale Changes to Promote Tolerance 187

The Crucial Role of States in Promoting Peaceful Exchanges 199

Individual Rights and Pluralist Histories 203

Conclusion: Our Question Answered 211

References 219

Index 249

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