In This Review

Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions
Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions
Edited by George J. Andreopoulos
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994, 265 pp

This book brings together scholarly experts on this grim subject, one that has been made particularly timely by events in Bosnia and Rwanda. The first half is a discussion of the legal definition of genocide, with two authors arguing for a relatively narrow one based on the U.N. genocide convention and two others making the case for a broad definition. The second half provides case studies of the Armenian massacre, the Kurds, East Timor, and Cambodia, in which the authors carefully assess the characters of the crimes against international standards of genocide. The collection's emphasis on the legal dimensions of genocide is based on the belief or hope that the United Nations will be effective in enforcing the convention. From recent experience, it seems more likely that the international community will deal with genocide not legally, but prudentially, as it has in the past. This suggests the need not for a single legal category of genocide, but a graduated scale by which to measure abuses. Other interesting dimensions of genocide, such as whether it is latent in all societies or a product of modernity, are addressed only tangentially.