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Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism Hardcover – December 10, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0195382044 ISBN-10: 0195382048 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"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

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195382048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195382044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.8 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Shandler on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ervin Staub has written a book of immense importance to anyone concerned with intergroup hostility, violence and genocide and how these great human evils can be overcome through individual and collective action. Dr Staub has moved far beyond mere academic interest in the psychology underlying mass violence and shares with us his own and others' successful interventions in places where evil has cast its dark shadow and where tremendous suffering and insecurity still prevail. Overcoming Evil provides a thorough, comprehensive, and up-to-date real-world view, unflinchingly examining what most of us would perhaps rather avoid. But more than mere analysis, Staub provides us with detailed examples, applications and systemic solutions from such places as Rwanda, Israel-Palestine, Cambodia, the Holocaust, Congo, Abu Ghraib, Egypt, etc. This is a substantial book: Some readers may read it from cover to cover, others may focus in on one part at a time. I found it easy to read selective sections prompted by the substantial index and table of contents. I was thus able to quickly and easily comprehend a section or to read in more detail about areas of personal interest. Although Overcoming Evil covers tremendous ground, Ervin Staub is a surefooted guide, able to shine hope and wisdom into the dark corners of the human psyche and our history and to offer us approaches that foster understanding, tolerance, forgiveness and a desire to work together for the good of the whole. Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism
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This great work is by far the most important book I know that deals with stopping the cycles of hate and violence that now threaten the world. Ervin Staub has a lifetime of experience in dealing with genocide, terrorism, and civil strife, and he has collected a vast number of stories and plans on how to deal with these--to stop them when they arise and, more important, prevent them from occurring. The most important recommendations are well summarized in tables. The book focuses on psychology, especially the ways that normal human sourness and narrowness can get rapidly out of control and turn to violent hate. The only problem with the book is a rather shotgun approach to causes and cures; no one could do all this...In the concluding chapter, though, he singles out the most critical things in the last and best table of all. Since we now have John Heidenreich's HOW TO PREVENT GENOCIDE (which deals with the political and diplomatic side), and Barbara Harff's brilliant model that allows accurate pinpointing when and where genocide will occur, there is NO excuse for genocide and mass murder to continue. We can stop this. Staub's book should be required reading for all policymakers and people in power, and really all informed citizens should read it. (Yet, there is only one other review of it so far, while any trashy novel gets dozens...what does that say about humanity?)
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