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on 2 January 2012
In Blood and Sand, Ben Kiernan has written a very comprehensive and thorough history of genocide which examines many of the less well reported exterminations as well as the more famous ones. He attempts to find recurring causes of genocide and identifies four ideological features - antiquity, agrarianism, racism, and expansionism - which have motivated most perpetrators. He also shows how almost every nation has at one time or another committed these awful atrocities, including how the USA has supported military dictatorships overseas.
This book is a great achievement, compiling an over-whelming amount of information, which makes it an excellent reference book. But where it fails for me is that it is 600 pages of hard work, mainly because it is written in a very academic style which makes it quite dry and cold reading.
Kiernan's research skills are excellent, his writing skills and his attempt to find common causes is not so strong. I was waiting for a great conclusion that made a strong attempt at defining that side of human beings that makes us commit or support these acts, but it didnt come. It's very easy to look at these crimes as being committed by 'others' but I know that it's always there within us, we are all made of the same stuff.
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