A unique and compelling study of history and morality in the twentieth century, this book examines the psychology which made possible Hiroshima, the Nazi genocide, the Culag, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. In modern technological war, victims are distant and responsibility is fragmented. No one thought of themselves as causing the horrors of Hiroshima.
One topic of the book is tribalism: about how, in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia, people who once lived together became trapped into mutual fear and hatred. Another topic is how, in Stalin's Russia, Mao's China and in Cambodia, systems of belief made atrocities possible. The analysis of Nazism looks at the emotionally powerful combination of tribalism and belief which enable people to do things otherwise unimaginable.
Drawing on accounts of participants, victims and observers, Jonathan Glover shows that different atrocities have common patterns which suggest weak points in our psychology. The resulting picture is used as a guide for the ethics we should create if we hope to over them.