A Century of Genocide by Eric D. Weitz
Utopias of Race and Nation

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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.

Weitz depicts the searing brutality of each genocide and traces its origins back to those most powerful categories of the modern world: race and nation. He demonstrates how, in each of the cases, a strong state pursuing utopia promoted a particular mix of extreme national and racial ideologies. In moments of intense crisis, these states targeted certain national and racial groups, believing that only the annihilation of these "enemies" would enable the dominant group to flourish. And in each instance, large segments of the population were enticed to join in the often ritualistic actions that destroyed their neighbors.

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.


About Eric D. Weitz

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Eric D. Weitz is Dean of Humanities and Arts and Professor of History at City College, City University of New York. He is the author of "A Century of Genocide" and "Creating German Communism, 1890-1990" (both Princeton).
Published March 23, 2003 by Princeton University Press. 368 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Century of Genocide

Publishers Weekly

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(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...

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Star Tribune

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Eric Weitz, associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota, has written a deeply researched and well-documented book about the intent to destroy -- in whole or in part -- a population defined "by race, nationality, religion or ethnicity."

May 24 2003 | Read Full Review of A Century of Genocide: Utopia...

Project MUSE

Weitz's discussion centers on four cases: the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, Nazi Germany, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and the former Yugoslavia.

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Project MUSE

Weitz argues that although Stalin's Soviet Union was not a genocidal regime per se, it delivered a template of population purges followed and perfected by later regimes centrally organized around projects of genocide, notably the Nazi state.

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