Ervin StaubOvercoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict and Terrorism

Oxford University Press, 2010

by Kelly McFall on March 14, 2015

Ervin Staub

View on Amazon

After “Schindler’s List,” it became customary for my students, and I, to repeat the slogan “Never Again.”  We did so seriously, with solemn expressions on our faces and intensity in our voices.

But, if I’m being honest, I also uttered this slogan with some trepidation.  For, while I believed absolutely in the necessity of such a commitment, I didn’t really know how to carry it out.  Looking at Bosnia and Rwanda, then the Sudan and the Congo, such affirmations confronted the messy reality of our world.

Ervin Staub‘s recent book Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict and Terrorism (Oxford University Press, 2010), offers a refreshing hint of possibility.  Staub has been working on the question of why people participate in mass violence for decades (his earlier book The Roots of Evil is one of the foundational texts in the field of perpetrator studies). In his most recent book, he offers concrete guidelines and strategies for reducing the possibility and frequency of mass violence in our world.  Staub is not a dreamer–he has no illusions that genocide and terrorism can be eliminated immediately.  But he believe both that it is everyone’s obligation to try and create a world in which mass violence is less prevalent and that such a world is in fact possible.

The book offers both a comprehensive summary of what psychology can tell us about the behavior of perpetrators and a lengthy set of recommendations.  It should be an important resource for both scholars and practitioners for years to come.

{ 0 comments }

Kaeten MistryThe United States, Italy, and the Origins of Cold War: Waging Political Warfare

March 11, 2015

In the annals of cold war history Italy is rarely seen as a crucial locale.  In his stimulating new book, The United States, Italy, and the Origins of Cold War: Waging Political Warfare (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Kaeten Mistry reveals how events in Italy proved surprisingly crucial in defining a conflict that dominated much of […]

Read the full article →

Udi GreenbergThe Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundation of the Cold War

March 9, 2015

American policymakers and scholars alike have looked to the rapid transformation of Germany, specifically West Germany, from a defeated Nazi state into a thriving democracy as one of the most successful postwar reconstructions of the twentieth century. Scholars have variously credited an influential U.S. occupation or Germans’ own revulsion at their Nazi past as the […]

Read the full article →

Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix KuehnAn Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010

March 5, 2015

[Cross-posted in New Books in National Security] Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn‘s An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010 (Oxford University Press, reprint edition 2014) offers what is in many ways is an untold, insider’s account of the birth of the Taliban and Al Qaeda during the anti-Soviet jihad, and […]

Read the full article →

Cabeiri RobinsonBody of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists

February 19, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] The idea of jihad is among the most keenly discussed yet one of the least understood concepts in Islam. In her brilliant new book Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists (University of California Press, 2013), Cabeiri Robinson, Associate Professor of International Studies and South Asian […]

Read the full article →

General Daniel BolgerWhy We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

December 12, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in World Affairs] During the past several years, numerous books and articles have appeared that grapple with the legacy and lessons of the recent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This development should surprise few. The emergence of the jihadist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria raises profound questions about what the U.S. […]

Read the full article →

Jacob N. ShapiroThe Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations

November 27, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in National Security] Jacob N. Shapiro‘s The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations (Princeton University Press, 2013) is a welcome addition to a field that sometimes depicts terrorist activity as an unfamiliar, idiosyncratic phenomenon. Shapiro convincingly argues that, far from being alien to our everyday experience, many terrorist organizations must necessarily deal with the bureaucracy, infighting, and […]

Read the full article →

Vahid Brown and Don RasslerFountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012

November 14, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in National Security] Vahid Brown and Don Rassler‘s Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012 (Oxford University Press, 2013) is a meticulously researched and remarkably detailed exposition of the Haqqani network’s growth and ongoing importance among Pakistani militant organizations. Beginning with an expansive history of the Haqqani family’s background, and subsequent emergence as a critical lynchpin in […]

Read the full article →

Michael CookAncient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective

November 5, 2014

Michael Cook, a widely-respected historian and scholar of Islam begins his book with a question that everyone seems to be asking these days: is Islam uniquely violent or uniquely political? Why does Islam seem to play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? The answers that are provided for these questions, particularly in […]

Read the full article →

Carlotta GallThe Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014

October 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Middle Eastern Studies] Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for almost the entire duration of the American invasion and occupation, beginning shortly after 9/11. In her new book The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), Gall combines searing personal accounts of battles and betrayals with moving portraits of […]

Read the full article →