Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction 2003 A shattering history of the last hundred years of genocidal war that itemises in authoritative, persuasive manner exactly what the West knew and when, and what it chose to do, and what not to do, with that knowledge. Winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award 'The United States has never ...Read MoreWinner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction 2003 A shattering history of the last hundred years of genocidal war that itemises in authoritative, persuasive manner exactly what the West knew and when, and what it chose to do, and what not to do, with that knowledge. Winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award 'The United States has never in its history intervened to stop genocide and has in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.' In this convincing and definitive interrogation of the last century of American history and foreign policy, Samantha Power draws upon declassified documents, private papers, unprecedented interviews and her own reporting from the modern killing fields to tell the story of American indifference and American courage in the face of man's inhumanity to man. Tackling the argument that successive US leaders were unaware of genocidal horrors as they were occurring - against Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Kurds, Rwandans, Bosnians - Samantha Power seeks to establish precisely how much was known and when, and claims that much human misery and tragedy could readily have been averted. It is clear that the failure to intervene was usually caused not by ignorance or impotence, but by considered political inaction. Several heroic figures did work to oppose and expose ethnic cleansing as it took place, but the majority of American politicians chose always to do nothing, as did the American public: Power notes that 'no US president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.' This riveting book makes a powerful case for why America, as both sole superpower and global citizen, must make such indifference a thing of the past.Read Less
The comedian Eddie Izzard, in his "Dress to Kill" performance, manages to have a very funny but biting look at genocide, saying, among other things, that we don't seem to have a problem with governments killing their own people. "We've been trying to kill you for years," he cracks.
Samantha Power's book gives a sweeping overview of the times we have attempted to intervene in internal genocides, as well as discussing the Holocaust. I love this book, but it's so depressing I had to take it one horror at a time with extended breaks between atrocities.
Power does a fabulous job of looking at the bipartisan faliures of the US in dealing with genocide, starting with the Armenian massacres of the early 20th century and working her way through Kosovo, where she was an eyewitness to various events.
Not all is doom and gloom, however. Power makes recommendations for better strategies of dealing with genocide without becoming overly entangled in the internal politics of the nation involved. I found it cheering when I saw Power was one of the people who testified before Congress regarding Darfur, and it seems as a people we may actually learn something from her.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-02-25 Power, a former journalist for U.S. News and World Report and the Economist and now the executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights, offers an uncompromising and disturbing examination of 20th-century acts of genocide and U.S responses to them. In clean, unadorned prose, Power revisits the Turkish genocide directed at Armenians in 1915-1916, the Holocaust, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, Iraqi attacks on Kurdish populations, Rwanda, and Bosnian "ethnic cleansing," and in doing so, argues that U.S. intervention has been shamefully inadequate. The emotional force of Power's argument is carried by moving, sometimes almost unbearable stories of the victims and survivors of such brutality. Her analysis of U.S. politics what she casts as the State Department's unwritten rule that nonaction is better than action with a PR backlash; the Pentagon's unwillingness to see a moral imperative; an isolationist right; a suspicious left and a population unconcerned with distant nations aims to show how ingrained inertia is, even as she argues that the U.S. must reevaluate the principles it applies to foreign policy choices. In the face of firsthand accounts of genocide, invocations of geopolitical considerations and studied and repeated refusals to accept the reality of genocidal campaigns simply fail to convince, she insists. But Power also sees signs that the fight against genocide has made progress. Prominent among those who made a difference are Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who invented the word genocide and who lobbied the U.N. to make genocide the subject of an international treaty, and Senator William Proxmire, who for 19 years spoke every day on the floor of the U.S. Senate to urge the U.S. to ratify the U.N. treaty inspired by Lemkin's work. This is a well-researched and powerful study that is both a history and a call to action. Photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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