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To Kill A People

Genocide in the Twentieth Century

John Cox

Publication Date - February 2016

ISBN: 9780190236472

272 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Offers a succinct and comparative introduction to the history of genocide in the twentieth century


There have been numerous books on genocide in the last twenty years, but To Kill a People offers a different approach. It is one of the few books on genocide expressly written for use in the college classroom. The book includes four case studies--the Armenian, Nazi, Cambodian, and Rwandan genocides--and substantive introductory and concluding chapters that contribute to two key debates within genocide studies: how to define "genocide" and place it in relation to other mass atrocities, and how to detect and analyze the social, historical, and cultural forces that produce genocidal violence.

To Kill a People examines a vast range of the latest research, offers original interpretations and arguments, and draws upon the author's own archival research on three continents. The case studies are supplemented by primary readings and thought-provoking questions, and the book concludes with a chapter that synthesizes the lessons and issues that arise from the study of genocide. A chapter-length bibliographic essay further distinguishes this book and will be useful to students and experts alike.

About the Author(s)

John Cox is Associate Professor of International Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he directs the Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. He is the author of Circles of Resistance: Jewish, Leftist, and Youth Dissidence in Nazi Germany (2009).


"To Kill a People is the best short introduction to genocide as both a mass crime and a field of study. Cogently structured and elegantly written, it combines an expert grasp of the causes and dynamics of genocide with an impressive command of the scholarly literature. It is also distinguished by a humane critical perspective, founded on a conviction that genocide is not an inevitable or necessarily eternal feature of human affairs. This galvanizing work will long be read, studied, and appreciated by students and other concerned citizens."--Adam Jones, author of The Scourge of Genocide: Essays and Reflections and Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction

"Cox effectively combines case studies of four of the most devastating mass exterminations of the twentieth century with much needed conceptual and background discussions that raise key overarching questions."--Thomas Pegelow-Kaplan, Director, Appalachian State Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies

"Cox offers fresh perspectives on the meaning and significance of the term genocide. To Kill a People will add significantly to our ongoing study of this topic."--David M. Crowe, author of War Crimes, Genocide, and Justice: A Global History

"I cannot recommend any textbook more highly than To Kill a People. It is lucid, compact, and jargon-free. While it is copiously erudite (the author seems to have read and digested every secondary source on the topic), the scholarly apparatus of footnotes, a bibliographical essay and film list, excerpts from primary sources after each chapter and associated discussion questions, and a genocide time-line does not at all clutter the central argument and its subsidiary themes. Students and instructors alike will not only be drawn to this text due to its accessibility; they will also find the moral ardor of Cox's prose winsome and compelling."--Michael S. Bryant, Bryant University, from World History Connected (Spring 2017)

Table of Contents

    List of Maps
    List of Figures
    About the Author

    Defining Genocide
    Other Disputes over Terminology and Definitions
    This Book's Definition
    Genocide in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds
    Destruction of the Native Peoples of the Americas
    The "Century of Genocide"
    Modern Imperialism
    Mass Atrocities in the Soviet Union and Asia
    Post-World War II Genocide
    Why Do Humans Commit Genocide?

    Chapter 1: The Armenian Genocide
    The Armenians
    A Decaying Empire Confronts the Modern Age
    Erosion of the Empire
    The "Young Turk" Revolution
    "Young Turk" Nationalism and Racism
    April 24: The Decimation of Armenian Leadership
    Aftermath: Struggles for Land and Justice
    Organized from on High
    How Many Victims?
    Genocide Denial
    Primary Sources and Study Questions

    Chapter 2: The Holocaust
    Anti-Jewish Prejudice in History
    Preconditions for the Holocaust: World War I and Weimar Germany
    Adolf Hitler and the Birth of the Nazi Party
    Elimination of Opponents and Intensification of Repression: 1933-1938
    Stages in Anti-Jewish Persecution
    World War II
    Operation Barbarossa and the "Final Solution"
    Auschwitz, "Operation Reinhard," and the Peak of Nazi Genocide
    The Nazis' Collaborators and Ideological Soul Mates
    The Nazis' Non-Jewish Victims
    Jewish Resistance
    Bystanders and Rescuers
    The End of the Third Reich
    Primary Sources and Study Questions

    Chapter 3: The Cambodian Genocide
    Angkor and Pre-Colonial Cambodia
    Cambodia and Indochina under French Colonialism
    Emergence of the Communist Party of Cambodia
    "Brother Number 1": Pol Pot
    Cambodian Politics in the 1950s and 1960s
    War in Vietnam and Civil War in Cambodia
    Remaking Cambodian Society
    Targeting of Minority groups
    How Many Were Killed?
    "Genocide is too heavy for the shoulders of justice."
    Primary Sources and Study Questions

    Chapter 4: The Rwandan Genocide
    Rwandan History and European Racial Philosophies
    Emergence of Hutu Parties and Independence
    Habyarimana's Second Republic
    1993 Strife in Neighboring Burundi
    Dashed Hopes for Peace
    Assassination of Habyarimana and the Descent into Genocide
    Rape as a Weapon of War and Genocide
    Downfall of the Hutu Regime
    Failure of the "International Community"
    Rescue and Resistance
    Post-Genocide Rwanda
    Authoritarianism and War under Kagame
    Conclusions: How was it Possible?
    Primary Sources and Questions

    For an Integrated Approach to the Study of Genocide
    The Psyches of Genocidal Perpetrators
    Warfare and Genocide
    Nationalism, Vulnerability, Perceptions of Grievance and Humiliation
    Another Century of War and Genocide?

    Bibliographical Essay and Suggested Films
    Timeline of genocide and genocidal crimes against humanity, 1900 to present