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Why We Hate Hardcover – July 5, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this book lacks a question mark, but it needs one, because sociology professors Levin (The Violence of Hate, etc.) and Rabrenovic (Community Builders) ask far more questions in this hollow book than they answer. The project they have outlined, one made more immediate after September 11, is to understand hatred—and how that hatred so often leads to violence. Unfortunately, the project becomes mired in analytical quicksand. The problem is one of approach, and the authors include far too many isolated incidents and long-standing geopolitical disputes to offer a cohesive argument about, or prescriptions for, the admittedly complex nature of hatred. Rather than careening from instance to instance to diagnose the apparent pandemic of hatred (in the space of two pages, the authors move from Nazi Germany to violence against females in Uzbekistan and the anti-Semitic graffiti of disaffected youth), Levin and Rabrenovic would have done better to use fewer examples and offer more analysis to yield more valuable conclusions. Instead, they dance around the role in hatred of fear, revenge, evolutionary psychology and other factors. Also disappointing is the authors' tendency to oversimplify otherwise valid causes of hate and prescriptions for it with statements such as "[L]ike attracts like. When it comes to their peers, human beings seem almost universally to be predisposed to prefer being among people like themselves" and offer such advice as "Those who are victimized should seek help from the proper authorities, and they should act accordingly." Noble and worthy statements, but the authors' project proves unwieldy within the confines of this slim yet sadly inelegant volume.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The 9/11 terrorist attacks have fed into fears that Americans are hated by others abroad and have prompted questions about the genesis of that perceived hatred. Why do people hate to such an extent that they will commit violence? Criminologist Levin and sociologist Rabrenovic explore hatred, whether it is inborn or learned behavior, what triggers it, and how it can be curbed. Using research, news reports, and anecdotes to illustrate continued discrimination against and hostilities toward various minorities, the authors examine how hatred is provoked by envy, frustration, or the need to control. They examine the rising anti-Muslim feelings in the wake of the terrorist attacks, America's troubled history of hatred toward blacks and Jews, and ethnic hatred that has spurred continued violence in nations around the world. They note that when hatred is widely shared in a society, it becomes part of the culture. The authors examine the forces that cause nations, and individuals, to capitulate to hatred and the courage it takes to resist it and work toward peace. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102191X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591021919
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jack Levin is the Irving and Betty Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University, where he co-directs its Center on Violence and Conflict and teaches courses in the sociology of violence and hate. He has authored or co-authored 30 books, most recently including Blurring the Boundaries: The Declining Significance of Age, Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers--Up Close and Personal and The Violence of Hate. Levin has also published more than 100 articles in professional journals and books and more than 150 columns in major newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times, The Sunday London Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and USA Today. In 2009, he received a major award from the American Sociological Association for the role he has played to increase the public understanding of sociology. Also in 2009, he received the Apple Award from the New England Sociological Association for his contributions to teaching. Levin has spoken to a wide variety of community, academic, and professional groups, including the White House Conference on Hate Crimes, the National Organization of Hostage Negotiators, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Personal Website: www.JackLevinonViolence.com

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Henrik Lenard on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Written in the painful aftermath of the September 11 Attack on America, Why We Hate reminds all of us that anyone can become an innocent victim of hate. Hate cuts across cultural, racial, gender, national boundaries.

In the first chapter, the book's authors give an excellent overview of the changing meaning of the term "hate" since the 1980s. In its common usage, the term has shifted from its original meaning "an intense dislike" and has instead come to be associated with hostile feelings toward the members of some group of people based on race, religious identity, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability status. Due to this transformation of meaning, hate has become a useful way to interpret criminal acts in which the underlying motive involves hostile or biased behavior such as racism, sexism or xenophobia.

Levin and Rabrenovic explore how prejudice and stereotype fueled by hatred can spur inter-group conflict. The two sociologists attempt to explain why hostile sentiments emerge between groups and the circumstances under which this hostility leads to violence. Simple but fundamental questions as to whether human beings born with a propensity for hate and violence are examined scientifically. The authors conclude that hating "the other" is learned behavior rooted in the environment, in psychological factors, and in the socio-economic characteristics of society. As it is highlighted clearly in the book hate also pays off in many ways for those who use it: Thus, "violence has benefits - psychological, social, and economic -for those who embrace hostile and vicious attitudes toward those who are considered different.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dan Blankenship on December 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book believing it would be a look inside the human mind - sort of an inside-out look at why people HATE other people. What I found was the exact opposite - a look at how messed up society (around the globe) and answers that lack the deep investigation necessary to offer real solutions.

That said, there are parts of this book that I did find useful. "Why We Hate" makes it clear that America is actually doing quite well compared to the rest of the globe. We definitely have our fair share of hate crimes and such, but compared to Northern Ireland, Rwanda, etc., we look pretty good. We hear too often about how America is the worst country at understanding ethnic diversity and multicultural issues. This book clearly points out that HATE is a huge problem worldwide. In that respect, this nonfiction book is worth the cost.

"Why We Hate" discusses pluralists vs. assimilationists (my spell check says that isn't even a word) points of view. Towards the end of the book solutuions are discussed, but in many instances the authors of this book seem to have a slight left-leaning bias. There constant criticism against patriotism and national pride can be annoying at times. I was especially disturbed by the last chapter: Flag-waving and Attitudes Toward Arab Americans. The authors try an portray Americans who wave the flag as Arab-hating-redneck-morons. But who is really the moron? The person who believes we should strip search an eighty-year-old Caucasian woman but thinks people of Arab descent should be given a pass because we shouldn't profile, or the person who knows profiling just makes COMMON SENSE?

I wasn't surprised to learn the authors are from Northeastern University. The liberal slant is not so bad that this book is unreadable.
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