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The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities Hardcover – November 7, 2011
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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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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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.
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.
I found one small error of fact in the chapter on the Mahdi Rebellion (the British officer who converted to Islam was von Slatin, not Hicks Pasha, who I don't think was ever a convert). So again, I'd double check the details elsewhere before relying on anything too specific.
The author clearly has his own opinions on politics, religion, and history, and it comes across in his writing style. But for the most part he avoids any screeds or polemics, and sticks to a just-the-facts presentation of his data set rather than shoving his own interpretations down the reader's throat.
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.
It's divided up nicely and each event is highlighted in bite size chunks allowing you to read just one or two stories right before bed.