Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly


Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly


Article excerpt

Genocide, the deliberate elimination of a race, religious group, or gender, occurs more often than expected. Commonly known genocides include persecutions against the Cambodians, Rwandans, Armenians, and the European Jews; however, there are many lesser known attacks, including those against the Alevi Kurds of Turkey in 1937 and the Aboriginal Australians in the early 1900s. Here, Rachel K. Fischer has collected a suite of materials that are of use to academic and research libraries; however, many of these items should be considered for adoption by small and large public libraries as well. Though grim, the topic is important in American and international history. Fischer became interested in studying the Holocaust, genocide, and human rights as a child because of her Jewish background.--Editor

Genocide is an unfortunate tactic used in the conquest and colonization of lands and people. It is a form of massacre that constitutes ethnic cleansing, allowing the invading army to take control of the government. While readers may know about the Holocaust or have heard about the recent genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, it is not uncommon for them to be unaware of the genocide the Turkish committed against the Armenian, Greek, and Syrian Christians or the atrocities committed against Native Americans in both North and South America. Many cultures openly deny that genocide has occurred in their countries. The American lifestyle is so far removed from that of war torn countries, like the former Yugoslavia or certain regions in Africa that lack running water and electricity, that it can be difficult to comprehend what daily life there is like. The politics of intervention, or lack thereof, are controversial on an international level and are a primary topic of many of the recommended books here.

When selecting titles, it is important to expand one's focus from the Jewish Holocaust and include all situations of genocide. Some universities have paved the way for future studies by creating genocide studies programs with the hope of being able to intervene and prevent future atrocities. Additionally, some libraries have sponsored genocide-focused special collections. Gendercide, the massacre of select genders, is less common. One example consists of women being raped to produce children while simultaneously being kept in concentration camps; men are killed. These scenarios occurred in Bosnia in the 1990s. Some cultures even appear to have escaped criminal prosecution for the genocide committed, such as the Indonesian massacres in East Timor, the Belgian massacres in Congo, or the German massacres committed by the Second Reich in Namibia.

The issue of genocide appears in both fiction and nonfiction. Fictional books about genocide include historical fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.

Nonfiction writings include history books, essays, and personal accounts, such as biographies and memoirs, some of which are published collectively as interviews. These accounts have originated from multiple perspectives, including those of the criminal, the victim, and the observing journalist or military agent. The recommendations here include suspenseful, wrenching accounts that are at times inspirational; many of these books have been made into films.

Genocide is an important topic in adult, young adult, and juvenile literature. The following items should prove useful to both teenagers and adults for both academic and personal studies. These books were chosen for their applicability to a variety of interdisciplinary topics and should be strongly considered as sources for classroom assignments. They can be used as sources for information about the cultural, historical, gender, and international politics and policies of genocide, including the roles that the United Nations and other international agencies play in these events. It is important that these events and individuals are never forgotten, and a library collection that honors these tragic events is one that a university and community can be proud of. …

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