Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction - by Adam Jones Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction - by Adam Jones

Comments, Caveats, and Corrections

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June 3, 2010

Mr. Jones,

I am sure you don't remember me, but I came to a seminar that you taught at the Holocaust Museum Houston in February. I really enjoyed the event and I wanted to let you know that you inspired me and my students. After the seminar, I decided that I would interject a one day lesson on genocide. It seemed to fit perfectly because our World Geography curriculum moves from Europe, where we learn about the Holocaust, to Africa, where we usually briefly touch on the more modern incidents of genocide. Well, my kids were so interested in the material that my one day lesson turned into an entire week about genocide. They kept asking more questions that led to me doing more research and coming up with more information and activities. The students could not believe that things like this were still going on in our world. They started paying more attention to the news and even weeks after the lesson was over, they mentioned information on genocide that they had seen or heard.

We did end of the year projects two weeks ago and several of them almost fought over who got to cover the different genocides in the world. I was shocked to see that they were still so passionate about it. That is rare to see in high school students. I just wanted to let you know that teaching genocide is now a permanent part my lesson plans. Thank you so much for all that you do to get the word out about this horrible reality. Maybe this generation of students will find a way to make it stop.

All the best,

Jaclyn Amato (Van Tiem)
Pearland High School
Pearland, Texas

Many thanks Jaclyn! - AJ

J. Young

of Calgary, Canada has given a five-star review to Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction on the page for the book:

Five StarsOutstanding, August 27, 2007

This brilliantly written tome by Adam Jones delivers exactly what it promises: A comprehensive introduction to genocide. Not only does Jones prove to be an extraordinary scholar for amassing so much information, but also an excellent author for producing such a clear, insightful, and substantive text.

As you can imagine, there are many books on the subject. However, most tend to focus on specific genocides only: i.e., Darfur, Rwanda, Jewish Holocaust, etc. This book, however, seems to cover them all - at least all the major ones in recent history. Here, each genocide is examined individually by chapter and receives fair and proper treatment. Jones shows no apparent signs of favouritism or prejudice as he remains objective from start to finish. Almost every statement of fact is supported by a citation or some kind of attribution, which shows just how much research was conducted for this project. And at the end of each chapter, an impressive list of notes and selected books is offered for further study, which I'm sure readers will find very useful.

From the genocide of Native Americans to the most recent genocide in Darfur, Jones gets right down to business and discloses every essential piece of information one needs to know; the historical background, the circumstances, the atrocities, the methods in which the atrocities were committed, the identity of the perpetrators and the victims, the number of casualties, and the end result of each genocide. Not shy of addressing even the toughest questions (example: "Is genocide ever justified?" or, "Are democracies less likely to wage war and genocide...?"), Jones provides us with not only his own expertise on such matters, but also the insights of other prominent experts in the field. This gives the reader a much more balanced and multidimensional view on the complexities of genocide.

I found Chapters 10 through 16 especially informative, and fascinating at the same time. Here, the focus is on the psychological aspect of genocide: Why do "ordinary" people participate in such atrocities? How could anyone ever become so cruel and sadistic? Why would anyone even attempt to justify or deny a genocide? What's going on inside the brain of these people? I've always wanted to understand the mindset of these individuals and what motivates them to do such things, beyond the simplistic "hatred," and "brainwashed by propaganda" factors that so many authors tend to contend with. Although racism and propaganda do in fact play a significant role in genocide, there are other elements that motivate "genocidaires."

These elements, according to Jones' findings, are purely psychological. They include: Greed, Fear, Narcissism, and Humiliation. As Jones elaborates on these factors, things begin to truly unravel, especially when he introduces the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments, which I think are quite astonishing and may very well surprise some (if not most) readers. However, I would also suspect that some readers may not agree with everything stated in this book.

For example, I disagree entirely with Jones' siding with the likes of Noam Chomsky, who stood in defence of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. As far as Jones is concerned, scum bags like Faurisson should not be punished by law for denying a genocide and for promoting outrageous propaganda. This, quite frankly, caught me off guard. I'm very surprised by that fact, considering the overall tone of this book. It really boggles my mind as to why Jones - a man so dedicated in spreading awareness about genocide - would actually tolerate the views of those that dismiss it. But thankfully, Jones does not persuade the reader into accepting his personal views, and at least he has the decency to present both sides of the argument to allow readers to form their own opinion. But as far as I'm concerned, there is a visible distinction between free speech and hate speech. Genocide denial falls into the category of hate speech, which in moral terms, should be completely outlawed.

But besides my disagreement with the author on this one particular issue, I have nothing to complain about. Jones demonstrates a high degree of professionalism and accomplishes a very difficult task in breaking down such broad subject. I would consider this book ideal for high school, college, and university students. In my opinion, this is the sort of book that belongs in every library and book store. I highly recommend it!

25 October 2006

Marc Greenside, teacher of a course on comparative genocide at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City, writes:

"I've just completed going through your book for a second time (highlighting, underlining, etc. this time around), and wanted to congratulate you on a wonderful success! First of all, it's such an important contribution. Secondly, it never reads like a typical dry text. Most importantly -- and very selfishly -- it is going to be of inestimable value to my course in January. I am very excited to be able to use it as the primary text with my students next semester."

Thanks, Marc!

Chapter 3 - Genocides of Indigenous Peoples

My book devotes an extended discussion to the phenomenon of residential schools for Indian children in Canada and the United States (pp. 75-76). The Canadian government has now announced a largescale restitution effort for the victims of these institutions. According to the New York Times (27 April 2006):

In a long delayed conclusion to a dark chapter of Canadian history, negotiators have reached an agreement to compensate 80,000 Native Canadians who attended a government-financed school system where many suffered physical and sexual abuse. The widespread incidence of alcoholism, family violence and incest in many Native Canadian communities has long been linked to the experiences of generations who attended the so-called residential schools, which were dedicated to forced assimilation and operated for more than a century, until the 1980's. Typically, government agents forced Inuit, Cree and other children to leave their parents and attend the schools, where they were harshly punished for speaking their own languages or practicing their religions. Negotiators representing the government, native peoples and several churches that administered the schools agreed that nearly $2 billion would be paid out in damages. Payments are set to begin next year, but will possibly be accelerated for the elderly and the sick. The accord, which negotiators called one of the largest damage settlements in Canada's history, needs cabinet and court approval, but that is considered a formality. ... There was no official apology, although the federal government had already admitted that sexual and physical abuse in the schools was widespread. ... The agreement allots payments of about $20,000 to the 80,000 former students. It will also provide about $120 million for a foundation that will promote traditional native healing therapies, as well as a 'truth and reconciliation' commission that will hear testimony from victims. Perpetrators also may come forward if they want to confess, but Kathleen Mahoney, one of the negotiators, said they would not be granted amnesty. [...]"
- Clifford Krauss, "80,000 Native Canadians to Be Compensated for School Abuse," The New York Times, 27 April 2006

This is a very positive step, but why no formal apology? What will it take?

Box Text 3a - Tibet

Prof. Jan Colijn of Stockton College writes (7 August 2006):
"I have just read your new book ... and I am very pleased to have done so. It is immensely readable, as it combines the promised jargon-free narrative with a very wide landscape of carnage (including 'our' own), and the illustrations are very useful ... Having just read Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's Mao: The Untold Story, I would argue that the great helmsman 'deserves' his own chapter, like Stalin, and not just in relation to Tibet, but that is my only quibble."

Chapter 7 - Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge

My chapter includes a reference (p. 189) to the U.S. dropping "more than half a million tons" of bombs on Cambodia between 1969 and 1973. The "generally cited figure" for the bombing, as specialist Taylor Owen of Oxford University notes, is indeed 539,129 tons, "3 times what was dropped on Japan (160,000 [tons]) in World War II." However, utilizing U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey data, Owen has now shown that in fact, 2,756,941 tons of bombs were dropped on 115,262 targets, in 230,516 sorties between 1965 and 1973. This is "five times greater than believed and half of all that was dropped during the entire Indochinese campaign," which was in turn "the most intense episode of aerial bombardment in history." The figures do not include bombing by T-28 planes of Lon Nol's air force, nor sorties by Vietnamese aircraft.

The lowest estimate of the death-toll from the bombing that I have seen is 50,000, given by Ben Kiernan. But Kiernan's estimate is based on the earlier bombing figures. It now seems possible that the death-toll may also have been "five times greater than believed" -- that is, at least 250,000. This would bolster my claim in the chapter that the U.S. bombing campaign against Cambodia was "probably genocidal in itself."

By kind permission of the fine Canadian magazine, The Walrus, I am pleased to post Taylor Owen's October 2006 article coauthored with Ben Kiernan, "Bombs Over Cambodia", which details his findings (in PDF format).

Taylor invites correspondence at His website is; the bombing data will be posted there in due course.

Chapter 9 - Holocaust in Rwanda

René LemarchandDr. René Lemarchand, professor at the University of Florida, is one of the world's leading authorities on the Great Lakes region of Africa. He has kindly provided a warm endorsement for Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, but in analyzing the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Dr. Lemarchand prefers a revisionist interpretation that places greater emphasis on the cynical role played by rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Among other things, he believes the RPF to have been guilty of shooting down the plane of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana (also spelled Habyalimana) on 6 April 1994 -- the action that sparked fullscale genocide. Here are some of Dr. Lemarchand's comments on my treatment of the Rwandan holocaust (email, 16 March 2006):

Your book is a major achievement. I am impressed by the quality of your analysis (with one exception), your fomidable erudition, your critical insights, and your elegant style of writing. ... [But] I have problems with the Rwanda chapter, if only because it reeks of political correctness. As is now becoming increasingly clear, the responsibility of the FPR [RPF] in the bloodbath cannot be shoved under rug. Especially not after the publication of Abdul Ruzibiza's blockbuster [Rwanda. L'histoire secrète], which leaves no doubt in the reader's mind that Kagame was directly involved in the shooting down of the presidential plane. Your discussion says nothing of that critical episode (which I can hardly hold against you), of the crimes committed by the FPR after the Oct. 1, 1990 invasion, of the quasi-genocidal killings of Hutu refugees in eastern Congo, of the one million Hutu IDPs on the eve of the genocide. ... My view is widely shared by more serious analysts (Reyntjens, Vidal, Semelin, Guichaoua, etc.) ...

You write: "Once in power Kabila fell under the sway of Hutu representatives in Kinshasa, supporting renewed cross-border killing operations in Rwanda." This is highly misleading. He fell under the sway of his Rwandan king-makers, who did all they could in 1997 and 1998 to prevent the UN mission from investigating the mass murders committed by Rwandan troops in eastern Congo. Kabila was happy to cooperate. Only after August 1998, when he decided to kick out the Rwandans, prompting Kagame to launch a military campaign against him (with Banyamulenge support), did Kabila turn to the Hutu as allies.

In a subsequent email (20 March 2006), Dr. Lemarchand wrote:

Let me just clarify where I come from. There can be do doubt that the killings were the work of multiple actors, the army and Presidential Guard, interahamwe, burgomasters, Radio Mille Collines, and that the result, like the Holocaust, was a total genocide. There would have been no genocide without the killers. But there would have been no genocide without the FPR invasion of Oct. 1st, 1990, and the ensuing civil war, culminating with the crash of the presidential plane, for which the responsibility of the FPR is by now reasonably well established (see Abdul Ruzibiza). The politically correct interpretation of the genocide (Gourevitch, Braeckman, Chretien, Melson) lays exclusive emphasis on the first of these underlying causes, and leaves out the other. But unless attention is paid to the other side of the coin, the causes of the carnage will remain obscure, or partial. The time has come therefore for a revisonist interpretation of the genocide, one which takes into consideration the responsibility opf the FPR for the civil war, for many of the crimes against Hutu civilians committed during the war, for the assassination of certain key opposition figures (anti-Habyalimana), such as Felicien Gatabazi, and, last but not least, for the shooting down of Habyalimana's plane. After the deaths of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, and the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, on October 21, 1993, the score was three Hutu presidents deliberately killed by Tutsi in less than 6 months. That, too, ought to be factored in as one of the many "causes" behind the genocide.

Chapter 10 - Psychological Perspectives

Figure 10-3Figure 10.3, on p. 277 of the text, shows a document issued to Lili Katz by the Swedish legation in Budapest in 1944. The caption states that "In the bottom left of the pass is the letter 'W,' standing for Wallenberg." Owing to a production glitch, the bottom of the image has been cut off, and Wallenberg's signature is not visible. A full version of the image appears at right (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Lena Kurtz Deutsch).

An Amazon review

I hope many readers of Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction will take the time to write a short review of the book on its Amazon US webpage. Unfortunately, the first review to appear, posted by "Jude" from Atlanta on November 9, 2006, is not too convincing. Jude writes that my book:

Takes on a monumental task of trying to be comprehnsive [sic] with such a broad subject, thus it is a bit disorganized. Mostly concentrates on the 20th century. Section on Rwanda is particularly good. However, the book is littered with jargon ("first and foremost," "modus vivienda"); bad grammar ("Christopher Columbus'," "lastly"); and hyperbole (asserts that the killing of the Maya in Guatemala was "enthusiastically supported by the Reagan administration.") The hyperbole is the books [sic] greatest fault; it seriously quotes such strident "scholars" as Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky.

Jude is of course welcome to criticize me for citing Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky, both of whom have written essential works on mass killing and state terror. Chomsky has been one of the formative political and intellectual influences on my life. For his part, Churchill -- who was recently the target of a grotesque witch-hunt at the University of Colorado that I and hundreds of other scholars denounced in an online petition -- wrote the longest and, I think, the best chapter for my edited volume, Genocide, War Crimes & the West. I cite that chapter, along with Churchill's book, A Little Matter of Genocide, which is indispensable to anyone seeking to understand "Holocaust and Denial in the Americas [from] 1492 to the Present," as the book's subtitle puts it.

Jude is also welcome to accuse me of "hyperbole" for pointing out what is obvious to anyone who closely studies the matter: namely, that the Reagan Administration enthusiastically supported genocide in Guatemala, as well as in neighbouring El Salvador, just as it supported and sustained other terror regimes in Latin America and worldwide. As Robert Parry writes in a passage quoted on p. 91 (fn. 43) of my book: "Despite his aw-shucks style, Reagan found virtually every anti-communist action justified, no matter how brutal. From his eight years in the White House, there is no historical indication that he was troubled by the bloodbath and even genocide that occurred in Central America during his presidency, while he was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the implicated forces." If we accept the principle of command responsibility for the US role in these crimes; if we note that the UN Genocide Convention specifically outlaws "complicity in genocide" as well as genocide itself; and if we recognize that the civilian death-toll in Central America alone during the 1980s probably approached 300,000, then there are grounds for contending that Reagan was the worst génocidaire anywhere in the Americas during the twentieth century. Some consider that hyperbole; I see it as simple reality.

I can accept Jude's evaluation of my book as "disorganized," though I think it is in fact meticulously organized. I can accept his accusation of excessive "jargon," though I have never seen the thoroughly pedestrian phrase "first and foremost" described as "jargon," and I will give a thousand dollars to anyone who can find the term "modus vivienda" in my book. (I presume Jude means "modus vivendi", which appears on p. 71, and which the not-very-jargon-laden Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as an "arrangement between people(s) who agree to differ.")

So call me disorganized; accuse me of being a pinko jargon-addict; but please, Jude, please never accuse me of being ungrammatical. I've worked too hard at mastering the English language to take that charge lying down. Neither of the cases you cite is remotely ungrammatical. There have long been two ways of indicating the possessive for nouns and proper names ending in "s." One either adds an apostrophe only, or adds an apostrophe and another "s." Thus, the possessive for "Columbus" is either "Columbus'" or "Columbus's." The former is more common in England, where the publisher (Routledge) is based; the latter is more widely used in North America. I personally prefer the "'s" ending, and I wrote the book that way. But Routledge has its preferred house-style, and their copy-editor changed my usage to the apostrophe-only format that is standard in the British Isles. This certainly didn't violate any grammatical rules, and I didn't feel it was worth making a fuss over. Note further that the "'s" ending has its own problems, as can be seen in phrases like "Thucydides's book" or "John Adams's presidency." Both of these grate somewhat, and a simple apostrophe -- "Thucydides' book," "Adams' presidency" -- is probably preferable here.

Lastly, the matter of "lastly." This is a perfectly grammatical word, which my trusty Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as "In the last place, finally." Then again, perhaps we should hesitate to heed the advice of someone who perpetrates a linguistic atrocity like "modus vivienda", commits a blatant comma-splice in his very first sentence, and misspells both "comprehensive" and "book's."

I'm glad you liked the Rwanda chapter, though!

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