Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Book Review: "A Problem From Hell" - America and the Age of Genocide
"A Problem From Hell"
America and the Age of Genocide
Author: Samantha Power
Pages: 503 pages (Up to 603 with acknowledgments)
I want to today's post to be a little different but ultimately critical to the conversation of security in today's growing global community. This is my book review of "A Problem From Hell" which is a book that puts a human face on the unrepentantly evil act of genocide. Many people think of the Holocaust as an act of genocide and surely it is but there are have been tradgeies that have rivalled its scope and scale and even surpassed in some cases. The book begins in a first person narrative by Powers describing genocide in Bosnia and provides a first hand account of it from her experiences there. However as the book progresses it shifts to a third person narrative detailing back to the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust, Raphael Lemkin's fight to have the word "genocide" adopted, through the Cold War which experiences Cambodia and Iraq, and finally through to the end of the 20th century and the genocides of Bosnia, Kosovo, and Rwanda. It looks at America, arguably the most powerful nation's inability, unwillingness, and ignorance on the facts of genocide. This book is deeply harshly and critical of the U.S. government but with merit, and it provides a bleak understanding of genocide on a very personal level. It also enables the reader to truly experience the horror, confusion, and sadness of those affected by genocide. This book isn't perfect, it very much pulls at the readers' heartstrings and more importantly omits some facts but it does not lose its impact because of this, I highly recommend this book to those who wish to understand that Holocaust is not the only way genocides are committed, that they are still being committed today in our lifetimes, and that we are capable of halting them if we show the inclination do so. Genocide threatens the very fabric of the international community and its existence is a repudiation of all things civil and decent in this world.