A prize-winning group of war reporters and analysts looks back on the killing fields of the late twentieth century and poses provocative questions for the future of human rights
This compilation of 14 essays focuses on three of the world's bloodiest killing zones in the 1990s: Yugoslavia, Rwanda and East Timor. In a fascinating prefatory essay, editor Mills (The Triumph of Meanness: America's War Against Its Better Self) draws on such writers as Joseph Conrad and Primo Levi in tracing the evolution of the language of slaughter. Mills shows how writing about mass atrocities became more and more concrete, spare and factual as the scale of the killings increased over the last century. The writers examining Yugoslavia, Rwanda and East Timor share in that same literary tradition. Their essays are strong on factual presentation but restrained in moralizing. For each of the three killing zones under study, the editors include discussion of what has happened since the murders stopped. Of particular interest are the efforts in Rwanda and East Timor to create mechanisms for administering justice to those accused of crimes against humanity, generally modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The contributors to this volume-including Michael Walzer, William Shawcross and David Rieff-generally advocate intervention by the West whenever mass atrocities occur in places where Western pressure and even military action is possible (although the authors recognize that military force is not always the first or only resort). Given the frequency of anarchic mass slaughter in the 1990s, more such atrocities will likely occur in the decades ahead. Close observation and analysis of the kind demonstrated in this book will be essential to forming the nation's and the world's response. (Oct. 1) Forecast: This will appeal to readers of Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell and David Rieff's Slaughterhouse. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.