- Paperback: 520 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (February 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1560009276
- ISBN-13: 978-1560009276
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900
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* Named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice!
"[Death by Government] is a compelling study of what the author calls democide—the intentional killing by governments through genocide, politicide, massacre, and terror. . . . A product of eight years of research by a distinguished political scientist, this is an unrivaled magnum opus with dozens of tables, figures, copious notes, and a massive bibliography. Essential reading for historians, political scientists, and readers interested in genocide."
—R. H. Dekmejian, Choice
“Death by Government should be read in history classes not just across America, but around the world. The problem of power, as Rummel terms it, remains with us today. . . . Only if we learn from the past can we ever hope to end state-sanctioned murder. The case for human liberty and limited government has never been made more effectively than by this fearsome book.”
—Doug Bandow, Cato Institute
“Death by Government is a good introduction to the general phenomena of state-sponsored mass murder or democide (Rummel’s concept). The numerous case studies are a mizture of carefully wrought description of the horrendous suffering of peoples under maily authoritarian political systems, with just the right dose of personal horror stories to make the book a memorable study of human deprivation and misery. For this effort, Rummel ought to be applauded.”
—Barbara Harff, the Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“With this volume, Rummel has completed his magnum opus on genocide and government mass murder, in short what Rummel calls ‘democide’. . . . Rummel’s methodology is based on averaging figures from a large number of sources, rather than historical source criticism or demographic estimates. This is a controversial method, yet it is clearly documented and well argued. . . . This work if a major achievement and will provide a reference point which no future systematic work on democide can ignore.”
—Nils Petter Gleditsch, Journal of Peace Research
“Governments have murdered about 169 million people in the twentieth century, according to Rummel’s estimate. . . . Yet mass murder by governments has been largely ignored by political science. Rummel argues that, to rectify this omission, a reconceptualization of government and politics is required. To this end he proposes the concept of ‘democide’ , which he defines as the intentional killing by a government of unarmed people. . . . Rummerl draws our attention to facts that are often ignored and should not be.”
—Michael Freeman, the Slavonic and East European Review
About the Author
R. J. Rummel was professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii. He is the author of over one hundred scholarly articles and two dozen books, including Power Kills, China’s Bloody Century, and The Miracle That Is Freedom. In addition, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and been the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conflict Processes Section of the American Political Science Association and the International Association of Genocide Scholars’ Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contribution to the Field of Genocide and Democide Studies and Prevention.
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Rummels book "Statistics of Democide" presents his findings in great detail (very long lists of statistics), and additional information can be found on his web site. This book "Death by Government" gives some statistics on the topic, but the focus of the book is not on the statistics but descriptions of the democides and the regimes that perpetrated them. Therefore this book is easier to read and perhaps a bit more interesting (but just as gruesome) compared to "Statistics of Democide". However, "Statistics of Democide" is a better factoid resource.
In this book he describes the following murder regimes and their democides in more detail: Soviet Gulag State (62M), Chinese Communist Anthill (35M later revised to 78M), The Nazi Genocide State (21M mostly genocide), The Depraved Nationalist Regime, KMT (10M), Japans Savage Military (6M), The Hell State Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge (2M), Turkeys Genocidal Purges (1.9M), The Vietnamese War State (Vietcong) (1.7M), Poland's Ethnic Cleansing after the war (1.6M), The Pakistani Cutthroat state (1.5M), Titos Slaughter House (1.1M), Orwellian North Korea (1.7M), Barbarous Mexico (1.4M), Feudal Russia (1.1M). M=million killed.
The descriptions of the democides are horrific and very sad. The big questions are how can these things happen? People can be very cruel and brutal towards each other that is for sure, but regimes that hold a lot of power over their citizens are the regimes that will commit these crimes. To quote from Rummels web site: "Why do dictators kill and make war? Is it for glory; for things, for beliefs, for hatred, for power? Yes, but more, because they can". Regimes that can't do it won't. Democratic regimes, especially liberal democracies commit very little democide.
Rummel delves into the historical tensions that brought about most of the conflicts that lead to mass exterminations. Many of us may know nothing beyond the basics about Stalin's Great Terror or Hitler's Holocaust. What's frightening to realize as you read this book is how the demagoguery that lead to these mass murder incidents is not all that far removed from what we hear from some of our own politicians today.
The author also goes into quite a bit of detail about some of the lesser known campaigns of genocide (or democide, as he insists on calling it) of the 20th century, such as that of Turkey against the Armenians, and incidents by the Polish, Japanese, and Pakistanis.
This is an important book. I believe it is one of the most important books I've ever read. No one who considers himself a serious scholar of 20th century history can omit this book from his collection.
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