Good books and films about Genocide

Photograph by Rev. Wilfredo Benitez for Orange County for Darfur.

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the areas that we cover.  We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.

In April we featured books and films associated with the genocides that have commemorative dates in April, and in May, the regions of our present day efforts.  In June, as a final point of focus, we are including books and films about genocide that are not tied to any particular geographical region.  This is the tenth post in this series, Genocide.

Recommended Books:

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, by Samantha Power
From 1993-1996 Samantha Power covered the grisly events in Bosnia and Srebrenica, becoming increasingly frustrated with the United States and their inability to counteract the genocide.  “The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.”

Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, by James E. Waller
From the Turks’ massacre of Armenians in 1915 through the Serbians’ slaughter of Bosnian and Albanian Muslims during the 1990s, the 20th century was an era of mass killing.  Social psychologist Waller develops a four-layered theory of how everyday citizens became involved.

Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide from Sparta to Darfur, by Ben Kiernan
Humans have been slaughtering each other for thousands of years, but only now is the field of genocide studies blooming.  This grim account of history notes remarkable parallels in the patterns of mass slaughter, from Carthage to Darfur.

Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond
The book asks and attempts to answer the question, once human kind spread throughout the world, why did differ populations in different locations have such different histories?  The modern world ha been shaped by conquest, epidemics and genocide, the ingredients of which rose first in Eurasia.  The book’s premise is that those ingredients required the development of agriculture.

Mobilizing the Will to Intervene: Leadership to Prevent Mass Atrocities, by Frank Chalk, Romeo Dallaire, Kyle Matthews, Karla Barqueiro, and Simon Doyle
The recurrences of genocide and crimes against humanity around the world demonstrate that the international community has been largely ineffective in stopping mass atrocities.  Drawing on interviews with 80 key figures involved in American and Canadian responses to the Rwandan genocide and the Kosovo crisis, the book explains why and provides a roadmap for change.

Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps toward Early Detection and Effective Action, by David A. Hamburg
Analyzes the problem of mass violence, describes pillars of prevention, and concludes that focal points of knowledge and skill in prevention are essential to identify warnings and to prepare and propose appropriate responses before a genocide begins.  It recommends the establishment of international genocide prevention centers in strong institutions and outlines their tasks.

State of Darkness: US Complicity in Genocides Since 1945, by David Model
The  thesis of State of Darkness is that the United States is either guilty of or complicit in eight genocides since 1945.  Two different levels of guilt were defined in the Genocide Convention, one depending on whether a country is directly responsible for genocide and the other, complicity, on whether it contributed in some significant way to the commission of genocide.

The Responsibility to Protect-Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All, by Gareth Evans
R2P was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005.  Many misunderstandings persist about its scope and limits.  Much remains to be done to solidify support and to build  capacity.  Evans posits how R2P, with its acceptance in principle and effective application in practice, the promise of “never again” can become a reality.

Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Worse Than War gets to the heart of the phenomenon, genocide, that has caused more deaths in the modern world than military conflict.  In doing so, it challenges fundamental things we thought we knew about human beings, society, and politics.

Recommended Films:

Screamers
The film a 2006 documentary by director Carla Garapedian examines repeating pattern of genocide, from the Armenian genocide, to the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, up to Darfur today.

The Last Survivor
This award winning documentary presents the stories of genocide survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate, motivate and foster a civic response to these mass atrocity crimes.  It follows the lives of survivors of four different genocides and mass atrocities – The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo.

Worse Than War
Goldhagen is convinced that the overall phenomenon of genocide is as poorly understood as the Holocaust had once been.  How and why do genocides start?  Why do the perpetrators kill?  Why has intervention rarely occurred in a timely manner?  These and other thought-provoking questions are explored in this documentary film.

What is Genocide?Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; …Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article II
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948

– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)


Compiled by Paulina Robles and Barbara English of Orange County for Darfur and Martina Knee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition.

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3 Responses to Good books and films about Genocide

  1. Pingback: Good books and films about genocide and mass atrocities (all entries) « Orange County for Darfur Blog

  2. Pingback: April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month « Orange County for Darfur Blog

  3. Pingback: Resources on Genocide | Stop Genocide Now

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