Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century

Article excerpt

Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century, by Benjamin Valentine. Cornell, February 2004. $29.95

Valentine sets out to diminish the role that ethnicist ideologies and other social dysfunctions play in explanations of genocides. He instead traces these terrible outcomes to small sets of committed rulers, for whom mass murder is an instrumental means to such ends as regime security from suspect or threatening minority groups. As such, his thesis touches directly on the question of whether such regimes require the active support of at least important segments of the general population in order to carry out genocides. In arguing they do not, he categorizes most citizens of afflicted societies as bystanders and frontally challenges Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's claim that a committed regime and an "eliminationist" culture are both necessary conditions for a genocidal outcome. Valentino tests his thesis against an array of evidence that is admirable in two ways. First, including Maoist China and military-ruled Guatemala retrieves often-overlooked cases for our consideration. …

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