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The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities Hardcover – November 7, 2011
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“[White] doesn’t take sides so much as report the facts―and the death tolls. . . . Full of fascinating information about parts of the world little-known to most Westerners.” (Washington Post)
“White . . . gives voice to the suffering of ordinary people that, inexorably, has defined every historical epoch.” (Military Review)
“A fascinating read thanks to White’s keen grasp of history and his wry take on the villains of the past.” (Christian Science Monitor) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Matthew White is the creator of the online Historical Atlas of the 20th Century. His data has been cited by forty-five published books and eighty scholarly articles. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Snarkiness aside, the author also delivers the cold, hard facts of murder and mayhem for a topic that is virtually- with few exceptions - glossed over in classroom history texts. He managed to put each event into chronological and political perspective that even the most knowledgeable historian, professional and couch potato alike, can learn from.
My biggest takeaway was the realization that mass murder, starvation, tyranny, and misery are the true cornerstones of the human condition. We in the west especially the USA, have lived more or less in a vacuum, a protective cocoon from that kind of pain for over a hundred years. We fail to realize how tenuous, rare and temporary this kind of peace really is. This book should be required reading in all civics, history and government classes throughout the country. Knowing how our little sliver of time fits inside the overall march of humankind's last 5,000 or so years may cause some of us to turn off the Pokemon app, put down the protest signs, and get on with doing something meaningful.
Organized in a chronological manner, each “episode” (war, genocide, etc.) is presented as a chapter. Each chapter includes a summary header that encapsulates the episode by including: death toll, participants, time frame, location, general reasoning behind episode, who or what’s to blame and the episode’s rank on the list of 100. Following the header, White delves into the dirty details of the event in a succinct manner that is rich with details. His witty summaries of each episode include a degree of sarcasm that somehow manages to blend the grave subject manner with a bit of humor. The humor relates mostly to how mankind’s stupidity often leads to mass death … many of the episodes presents will have readers shaking their heads. White makes the depressing topic rather enjoyable to read. There are no illustrations/pictures (other than the cover) and only a handful of maps in the book, but the text renders such visual aids unnecessary. The appendices at the end of the book provide the rationale behind the rankings, additional summarized data and the sources used to create the book.
Overall, ATROCITIES is a terrific and useful reference that brings to light many lesser-known historical events from all over the world. There were quite a few episodes that I had never heard of, especially in Africa. I have always enjoyed almanacs, older versions of the Guinness Book of World records and The Book of Lists, so this book really hit the mark with me.
It's not a book you sit down and read in a sitting. Instead, it's great for moments of downtime, or a few chapters before bed.
It tells us everything we need to know about human nature.
It supports my belief that until our species understands
our 'nature' we are doomed to repeat these 'atrocitites'.
Should be required reading for all senior high school
and college students.
The author's clean and even-handed and light style keeps the horrificness of it all not just bearable but downright fascinating.
How we manage to so efficiently find ways to slaughter ourselves, show the most savage of instincts and yet continue to grow and grow in population!
A book about as solid as some very iffy historical evidence regarding numbers (and here is where a good deal of doubt creeps in) of the slaughtered and size of armies permits.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this world. Atrocities opened my eyes far wider than I thought possible.Read more