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.
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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 BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved