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More than sixty million people have been victims of genocide in the twentieth century alone, including recent casualties in Bosnia and Rwanda. Herbert Hirsch studies repetitions of large-scale human violence in order to ascertain why people in every historical epoch seem so willing to kill each other. He argues that the primal passions unleashed in the cause of genocide are tied to the manipulation of memory for political purposes.

According to Hirsch, leaders often invoke or create memories of real or fictitious past injustices to motivate their followers to kill for political gain or other reasons. Generations pass on their particular versions of events, which then become history. If we understand how cultural memory is created, Hirsch says, we may then begin to understand how and why episodes of mass murder occur and will be able to act to prevent them. In order to revise the politics of memory, Hirsch proposes essential reforms in both the modern political state and in systems of education.

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About the Author

Herbert Hirsch, professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, is author of many books, including Persistent Prejudice: Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Violence as Politics: A Series of Original Essays.

Reviews

A touchingly literary work and at the same time . . . well grounded in social science thinking. Israel W. Charny, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide Provides both a lucid and original account of why genocide occurs and a vision of how it can be prevented.Roger W. Smith, College of William and Mary "A touchingly literary work and at the same time . . . well grounded in social science thinking. Israel W. Charny, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide" "Provides both a lucid and original account of why genocide occurs and a vision of how it can be prevented.Roger W. Smith, College of William and Mary" A valuable point of departure for an examination of some of the major issues of Holocaust interpretation."American Historical Review"

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