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Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing
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Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  219 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Political or social groups wanting to commit mass murder on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious differences are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. In Becoming Evil, social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil.
Waller debunks the common explanations for gen
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Paperback, 316 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2002)
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Laurie Garcia
Aug 14, 2013 Laurie Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his book Becoming Evil, James Waller argues that ordinary individuals - people like you and me - are the ones who commit genocide and mass murder. He believes that the nature of the collective; the influence of an ideology, psychopathology, or personality; and obedience to authority are not by themselves enough to explain why people commit extraordinary evil. Waller offers readers a new model for explaining how people can be moved to commit genocide which I found absolutely fascinating and ...more
Emad
Jul 28, 2014 Emad rated it it was amazing
This book changed my outlook on human nature. Given the right training and incentives, we’re all capable of evil. Not just the evil of stealing or lying, but genocide. The book is so utterly convincing that at this point, at least amongst scholars, it’s not really a debate.

It made me a little sad because I've always had a very sunny outlook about human nature.
Aly
Aug 14, 2013 Aly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Newcomers to my field of interest-- truly understanding genocide
Almost finished, after an entire summer of having this be the book I read on the bus. An oddly good way to meet interesting people...

I consider this book a relatively good outline of research related to the causes of genocide. This is a particular fascination of mine, so I can't say how it would read either to a non-psychologist or to someone with no background in research related to genocide. I was troubled by the author's continued use of the word "evil" and his insistence, at the end of every
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Aubrey
Jan 20, 2015 Aubrey rated it really liked it
Waller outlines quite brilliantly a new way of thinking - a new model - to explain the perpetration of genocide. In this model, the motivating factors behind the actions of genocide perpetrators are explained in intricate detail. However, explanation does not equate excuses. These acts, these behaviours, are not to be excused - they are meant to be understood, to be analyzed, to open a branch of discourse in genocide studies and open a door for more research.

Waller's view is inherently social ps
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Kirsten Allen
May 07, 2010 Kirsten Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author, James Waller, a psychologist, posits that "it is ordinary individuals, like you and me, who commit extraordinary evil." Waller first defines human evil as "the deliberate harming of humans by other humans," and goes further with this definition to define extraordinary evil as those acts that are "perpetrated in times of collective social unrest, war, mass killings and genocide."

Waller takes various psychological theories and applies them to those individuals that have engaged in act
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Jared Holm
Dec 04, 2009 Jared Holm rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn Steeves
Aug 14, 2013 Carolyn Steeves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though at times dense and jargon-laden, this was a fascinating read and a good insight into human nature. Waller creates a good foundation to build upon when understanding genocide and our capacity for evil. The case studies were horrifying, but a good reminder of why we need to understand and prevent mass killing.
Jennifer Trudgeon
Aug 14, 2013 Jennifer Trudgeon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Read this for a college class about Genocide. Very interesting to get a look at the possible reasons why horrific and cruel acts like Holocaust could happen. Probably wouldn't have read outside of school, but glad I had the opportunity to add this to my list.
Sara
Dec 17, 2009 Sara rated it it was ok
A happy-go-lucky beach read! Points out that humans have tried to commit genocide just about everywhere during just about every time period, and tries to explain why. Useful for corporate office metaphors.
Niosoco
Jan 29, 2016 Niosoco rated it really liked it
It does contain a good explanation for why people commit genocide and mass killing, though some elucidations were so long and sometimes repetitive, that I started reading without listening, thus losing the content of the pages.
Carl
Aug 14, 2013 Carl marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Looks interesting. Also, seems like a good balance to "Becoming Good", which I also have on my list. Check that, which I want to put on my list but cannot find listed on goodreads at the moment. Becoming Good is by David Gill.
Timothy Potts
A informative book about the evils of group think, and how ordinary people do extraordinarily evil things. This is a must read if you are in social services, psychology, sociology or simply interested. It has a lot of historical information as well. Great book.
mart
Aug 08, 2012 mart rated it really liked it
A chilling non fiction book about how especially political and religious ideologies can manipulate normal everyday people into torturing, maiming and killing their fellow man. It's a whole lot easier than you think. And it happens too often
Ken Onstot
Aug 14, 2013 Ken Onstot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A painfully truthful look at the human capacity for evil, a capacity that exists in all of us if we do not learn ways to guard against it.
Takaharu Saito
Jul 11, 2016 Takaharu Saito rated it liked it
This book introduces us some of mental phenomenon that make us brutal. Sometimes too long or unclear, but useful to comprehend some genocide.
Derek Emerson
Dec 29, 2007 Derek Emerson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2005-books-read
Not for people who like a positive outlook on the world. Very powerful with moving stories combined with psychological theories.
Sarah Thibaudeau
Sarah Thibaudeau rated it it was amazing
May 22, 2014
Adrienne Lafortune
Adrienne Lafortune rated it liked it
Feb 22, 2014
Madison Partida
Aug 14, 2013 Madison Partida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comps
An interesting perspective
Laura Slifka
Laura Slifka rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2014
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Jul 23, 2016
Jesse Bouvier
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May 14, 2014
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Sep 25, 2008
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“A myopic focus on the proposed psychopathology of perpetrators, or on their alleged extraordinary personalities, tells us more about our own personal dreams of how we wish the world to work than it does about the reality of perpetrator behavior.” 1 likes
“A myopic focus on the proposed psychopathology of perpetrators, or on their alleged extraordinary personalities, tells us more about our own personal dreams of how we wish the world to work than it does about the reality of perpetrator behavior. In that role, such explanations satisfy an important emotional demand of distancing us from them.” 1 likes
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