- Taschenbuch: 669 Seiten
- Verlag: W W Norton & Co Inc; Auflage: Reprint (13. Mai 2013)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0393345238
- ISBN-13: 978-0393345230
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 17,8 x 4,6 x 23,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 349.033 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 13. Mai 2013
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[White] doesn't take sides so much as report the facts--and the death tolls. . . . Full of fascinating information about parts of the world little-known to most Westerners.
A fascinating read thanks to White's keen grasp of history and his wry take on the villains of the past.
[White] doesn t take sides so much as report the facts and the death tolls. . . . Full of fascinating information about parts of the world little-known to most Westerners."
White . . . gives voice to the suffering of ordinary people that, inexorably, has defined every historical epoch.
A fascinating read thanks to White s keen grasp of history and his wry take on the villains of the past."
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These statistics are simply imponderable. What was it like to live after the cataclysm of the Thirty Years War? How did Paraguay manage to continue as a nation after the debacle of the War of the Triple Alliance? How did these "democides" happen?
The Great Big Book of Horrible Things collects and ranks the Thirty Years War (Rank: 17) and the War of the Triple Alliance (Rank: 79) with ninety-eight other mind-boggling instances of man's inhumanity to man, and provides a brief synopsis of their causes, course and results, all done in a breezy and humorous approach to the all-too serious subject matter. This approach is not a flaw of the book. All but five or six of the wars are long-forgotten, and the fact that so many can die for what appear to be transient and ephemeral causes is a cautionary instruction for the modern age. Moreover, the effect that these statistics and the stories behind them have - particularly the ones removed from modernity - have on me is "Gosh!Wow!" as in "Gosh! Wow!" can you believe that Genghis Khan (Rank: 2) managed to kill 40 million human beings with nothing more than muscle powered weapons?!?!?
Each of the entries gets a fairly short write up that provides background, players, setting, course and effects of the particular piece of human tragedy being reviewed. The book covers a period from the Second Persian War (Rank: 96), circa 480 - 479, to the Second Congo War (Rank: 27) that ran from 1998 to 2002. The author Matthew White surveys the entire world, which results in entries from the Goguryeo-Sui Wars (Rank: 67) between Korea and China, crica 598 to 612 A.D., to the Bahmani-Vijayanagara Wather (Rank: 70) between Muslims and Hindus, circa 1366, in Indian, to the "Heart of Darkness" which was King Leopold I of Belgium's Congo Free State (Rank:14), circa 1865 - 1908. The result is a book that is easy to dip into to read whatever the reader is interested in, but then pulls the reader into reading "just another" selection, then another selection, as the reader is confronted by well-known and unknown mind-boggling, "Gosh! Wow!" histories of events whose passions have either died completely or are in the process of dying out.
The author has a couple of nice appendices where he crunches some numbers for determining who and what are the greatest killers. Although my senses was that he had a secularist bias, he was encouragingly even-handed in analyzing both the cliche that religion causes war and the contribution that Communism has made to mass-killing in the 20th Century. For my part, I was surprised by the number of Chinese rebellions that were inspired by a form of "Christianity," to wit, two: the Fang La Rebellion (Rank: 37) of 1120 - 1122 was led by "Vegetarian Demon Worshippers," i.e., Manichaeans, and the Taiping Rebellion (Rank: 6) of 1850 - 1864 was led by a person who fancied himself to be the "younger brother of Jesus Christ." Granted that there are a lot of Chinese rebellions that did not need to be ignited by a a Christian heresy, one has to marvel - Gosh! Wow! - about the fact that any of them - let alone two - were ignited by such an alien influence, as Christianity is to China, and ponder what effect that may have had on the antipathy of Communist China in the 20th Century to Christian missionaries. (Admittedly there are other reasons for Communists to suppress Christianity, but the virtue of a book like this one is that it allows such patterns to become apparent because of the breadth of its coverage.)
This is a great book to leave on the night stand or coffee table for those occasions when the reader has a few minutes to get lost in the the great ethnic cleansing of the Sino-Dzungar War (Rank: 67), circa 1755-1757, when China eliminated the Dzungar nation by eliminating something on the order of 600,000 Dzungars in an atrocity that has essentially been forgotten.
I also developed a rather intense sick feeling knowing human beings have changed very little over the last ten thousand years. We immodestly pat ourselves on the back as rising to unheard of levels of civilization and enlightened social intercourse. But, whites history is unapologetically inclusive of recent acts of unspeakable barbarity, such as WWII, the senseless monstrosities from the Korean peninsula, and human induced horrors from Central Africa, and other acts of inhuman butchery many of which have happened in this century! White tries to find some pattern to it all in his closing chapters and yet, the reader has to come to the conclusion, there is nothing that can be directly blamed for it except gross human stupidity and madness of mob mentality. We really are a unique species in more way than just our so-called high intelligence. We are crafty apes, with murder in our black hearts. We are ruthless and selfish and pitiless. We are not just capable of grand individual sweeps of specie-cide, we seem to gladly and massively follow the inhuman and murderous orders of any tyrant willing to toss us a few crumbs of moldy bread to us so such evil creatures can magnify their well thought out horrors a million fold. It is fascinating and disgusting, horrible and informative, sickening and intriguing to learn this dark side to our own inner psyche. The word "humanity" takes on an entirely different shade after reading this well written and intensely informative book.
Organized in a chronological manner, each “episode” (war, genocide, etc.) is presented as a chapter. Each chapter includes a summary header that encapsulates the episode by including: death toll, participants, time frame, location, general reasoning behind episode, who or what’s to blame and the episode’s rank on the list of 100. Following the header, White delves into the dirty details of the event in a succinct manner that is rich with details. His witty summaries of each episode include a degree of sarcasm that somehow manages to blend the grave subject manner with a bit of humor. The humor relates mostly to how mankind’s stupidity often leads to mass death … many of the episodes presents will have readers shaking their heads. White makes the depressing topic rather enjoyable to read. There are no illustrations/pictures (other than the cover) and only a handful of maps in the book, but the text renders such visual aids unnecessary. The appendices at the end of the book provide the rationale behind the rankings, additional summarized data and the sources used to create the book.
Overall, ATROCITIES is a terrific and useful reference that brings to light many lesser-known historical events from all over the world. There were quite a few episodes that I had never heard of, especially in Africa. I have always enjoyed almanacs, older versions of the Guinness Book of World records and The Book of Lists, so this book really hit the mark with me.
Therefore it is shocking to read that, as an exception of the safer hereditary monarch rule, King Leopold II of Belgium was in the Free State of Congo "the deadliest" (p. 539), with a death toll of 10 million (p. 325) (1) in 23 years (1885/1886-1908): In the section "Crazed Tyrants. Who's Worse: Stalin or Hitler?" (p. 393), he is ranking Leopold II just behind Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
Matthew White should read Joseph Ki-Zerbo, the most respected African historian, who calculated that in 1903, supposedly one of the peak years of the rubber production, the total figure of Congolese workers in this industry was only 43,500. It is impossible to reconcile these findings with the totally inflated 10 million figure, which would have required the death of 435,000 Congolese per year or about 1,200 per day (2) (3).
The estimate of 10,000,000, in the absence of accurate records, is derived from a difference between British politically motivated "wild guesses" (Prof. Jean Stengers) (4) estimates of the Congo population in 1886 and the records of the 1924 Census.
« Il est tout à fait naturel de préférer les mensonges aux vérités. Ils sont moins compliqués.” (It is quite natural to prefer lies to truth. They are less complicated.) (5)
(1) 8 million in Matthew White's website http://necrometrics.com/20c5m.htm#Congo: this difference of 2 million is not explained in the book
(2) Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Histoire de l'Afrique Noire d'hier à demain, Hatier 1994
(3) Adelin Remy, « There Was No Genocide in the Congo”, Letters to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal Europe, April 20, 2004
(4) Jean Stengers, Congo : Mythes et réalités, Racine Lannoo 2005
(5) Franz-Olivier Giesbert, Dictionnaire d'anti-citations pour vivre très con et très heureux, Le Cherche Midi 2013