Becoming Evil

Becoming Evil : How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

4.13 (244 ratings by Goodreads)
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Political or social groups wanting to commit mass murder on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious differences are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. In "Becoming Evil", social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil. Waller debunks the common explanations for genocide - group think, psychopathology, unique cultures - and offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these extraordinary acts can emerge. Illustrative eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter. An important new look at how evil develops, "Becoming Evil" will help us understand such tragedies as the Holocaust and recent terrorist events. Waller argues that by becoming more aware of the things that lead to extraordinary evil, we will be less likely to be surprised by it and less likely to be unwitting accomplices through our more

Product details

  • Hardback | 316 pages
  • 162.1 x 240.8 x 24.1mm | 694.01g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 3 line illustrations, 9 halftones
  • 0195148681
  • 9780195148688
  • 2,019,431

Table of contents

Preface: "I Couldn't Do This to Someone"; Part 1: What Are the Origins of Extraordinary Human Evil?; Introduction: A Place Called Mauthausen; 1. The Nature of Extraordinary Human Evil; "Nits Make Lice"; 2. Killers of Conviction: Groups, Ideology, and Extraordinary Evil; Dovey's Story; 3. The "Mad Nazi": Psychopathology, Personality, and Extraordinary Evil; The Massacre at Babi Yar; 4. The Dead End of Demonization; The Invasion of Dili; Part 2: Beyond Demonization: How Ordinary People Commit Extraordinary Evil; A Model of Extraordinary Human Evil; 5. The Nature of Human Nature: Our Ancestral Shadow; The Tonle Sap Massacre; 6. Defining the Killers: Identities of the Perpetrators; Death of a Guatemalan Village; 7. Immediate Social context: A Culture of Cruelty; The Church at Ntamara; 8. Defining the "Other": Social Death of the Victims; The Safe Area of Srebrenica; Part 3: What Have We Learned and Why Does It Matter?; 9. Conclusion: Can We Be Delivered from Extraordinary Evil?show more

Review quote

"Clearly and effectively synthesizes a wide range of studies to develop an original and persuasive model of the processes by which people can become evil... an excellent choice for readers just beginning to investigate the phenomenon."--Publishers Weeklyshow more

Rating details

244 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 37% (91)
4 43% (104)
3 17% (41)
2 3% (7)
1 0% (1)
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