Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism

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9780195382044: Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism

Overcoming Evil describes the origins or influences leading to genocide, violent conflict and terrorism. It identifies principles and practices of prevention, and of reconciliation between groups after violence, or before violence thereby to prevent violence. It uses both past cases such as the Holocaust, and contemporary ones such as Rwanda, the Congo, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contemporary terrorism, and the relations between the Dutch and Muslim minorities, which also has relevance to other European countries, as examples. The book draws on the author's previous work on all these issues, as well as on research in genocide studies, the study of conflict and of terrorism, and psychological research on group relations. It also describes the work of the author and his associates in real world settings, such as promoting reconciliation in Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo. The book considers what needs to be done to prevent impending or stop ongoing violence. It emphasizes early prevention, when violence generating conditions are present and a psychological and social evolution toward violence has begun, but not yet immediate danger of intense violence. The book considers the role of difficult social or life conditions, repression, culture, the institutions or structure of society, the psychology of individuals and groups, and the behavior of witnesses or bystanders within and outside societies. It emphasizes psychological processes, such as differentiation between us and them and devaluation of the "other," past victimization and psychological woundedness, the power of ideas and people's commitment to destructive ideologies. It considers humanizing the other, healing from past victimization, the creation of constructive ideologies and groups and how these help people develop cultures and institutions that make violence less likely. The book asks what needs to be accomplished to prevent violence, how it can be done, and who can do it. It aims to promote knowledge, understanding, and "active bystandership" by leaders and government officials, members of the media and citizens to prevent violence and create harmonious societies.

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About the Author:


Ervin Staub has taught at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He studied the influences that lead caring, helping, altruism in adults and children, the origins of genocide and other mass violence, the prevention of violence between groups and reconciliation after violence. He published extensively on these topics. He has also worked in many real world settings, on projects ranging from reconciliation and the prevention of new violence in Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo, to reducing the use of unnecessary force by police, to creating caring classrooms.

Review:


"Professor Staub has long been one of the leading scholars on the origins of hatred and violence. This book is singularly important because it not only deepens his prior insights, but reflects practical efforts in prevention and reconciliation. He formulates central principles leading to intense violence between groups and clarifies alternative paths. He devotes serious attention to practices of violence prevention, including early prevention, and also practices of reconciliation after a violent disaster such as the Rwandan genocide. He applies a broad range of principles to specific situations in order to improve opportunities for nonviolent progress. This is an exceedingly valuable book."

-David A. Hamburg, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar, Weill Cornell Medical College


"In a fitting capstone to Ervin Staub's remarkable career, Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism addresses the psychology of man's inhumanity to man. Leavened by his own personal experience and field work in countries ravaged by genocidal struggle, Staub's book covers the range of political violence, from terrorism to ethnic cleansing, exploring and illuminating the dark corners of man's psychology that permit ordinary people to commit such extraordinary evil. Not merely an academic exercise, the book provides pragmatic guidance for resolving the seemingly intractable conflicts that beset contemporary society."

- Jerrold M. Post, M.D., Director, Political Psychology Program, George Washington University, and author of The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to al-Qaeda


"The leading author on genocide has turned his analysis to address the question of how to prevent it. The work is deeply personal, analytically penetrating, and tactically broad. It deserves a wide readership, from those who make policy to those who are bystanders to unfolding events."

- I William Zartman, Jacob Blaustein Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University.


"Ervin Staub-the world's leading researcher of the human capacity for selfless good and mass evil-is the perfect person to help us transform closed fists into open arms. This culmination of his life's work, informed by his on-the-ground prevention and reconciliation work, is timely, personal, engaging, and profoundly significant."

- David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, and author of Social Psychology, 10th Edition


"Staub has done it. In a single volume, he has given us illuminating, multidisciplinary analysis of the causes of mass violence and terrorism, their impacts, and most important, the steps we can take collectively toward prevention. The extraordinary scope and depth of this book makes it essential reading for everyone who cares about peace and building a humane world."
- Michael Wessells, Professor, Program on Forced Migration and Health, Columbia University


"Overcoming Evil is a brilliant and original work on the sources of violence, the prevention of genocide, and reconciliation after genocide. Ervin Staub's work on reconciliation in Rwanda is unprecedented."
- Roger W. Smith, Professor Emeritus of Government, College of William and Mary


"Staub has written a superb book that has excellent scholarship and well-conceived practical suggestions for preventing massive intergroup violence and for developing reconciliation if it occurs. It is an extraordinary book of heart, as well as fine scholarship. I recommend it highly for all leaders and citizens who seek a more peaceful world, as well as for social scientists who wish to be informed of the best thinking in this area."
- Morton Deutsch, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University


"Ervin Staub's work on genocide is remarkable in its combination of thoughtful interpretation and hands-on observations of lasting effects and efforts at recovery."
- Robert Jay Lifton, Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocid


"Ervin Staub's magnum opus offers a penetrating, comprehensive analysis of one of mankind's most bedeviling problems, inter-group hostility and violence. Staub brilliantly explains the roots of this social evil, while offering a map out of this perennial predicament. Overcoming Evil is a deeply hopeful book that should be read by anyone who is concerned about humanity's future and how to prevent, react effectively to, and help people heal from this pernicious form of violence."
- Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than


"An expansive book with practical conclusions...(an) illustration of the social mind as both instrumental in violence and a tool for its prevention. Staub's analysis is multifaceted and presents a picture of human mass violence as influenced by interacting psychological, cultural, political, and historical factors...This work is suitable for both university students and lay readers." -- Fathali M. Moghaddam and Zachary Warren, PsycCRITIQUES


"In sum, this is a book to admire for its broad based scholarship and analysis of the origins of hated and mass violence. And just as admirable is Staub's vision that reconciliation, even between the most intractable enemies, is not only desirable, but possible. His example of personal involvment should go a long way towards inspiring others to participate in the process of healing and caring." -- Daphne Abeel, The Armenian Mirror-Spectator


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