Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2002 - Psychology - 316 pages
2 Reviews
Political or social groups wanting to commit mass murder on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious differences are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. In Becoming Evil, social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil.
Waller debunks the common explanations for genocide- group think, psychopathology, unique cultures- and offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these extraordinary acts can emerge. Illustrative eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter. An important new look at how evil develops, Becoming Evil will help us understand such tragedies as the Holocaust and recent terrorist events. Waller argues that by becoming more aware of the things that lead to extraordinary evil, we will be less likely to be surprised by it and less likely to be unwitting accomplices through our passivity.

What people are saying - Write a review

Becoming evil: how ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and, of course, the Holocaust these are but a few examples of mass killing and attempted genocide. When such events come to light, civilized people are revolted ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Very very Important have to read 13

Other editions - View all

References to this book

Hate Crime
Nathan Hall
No preview available - 2005
All Book Search results »

About the author (2002)

James Waller, Professor and Chair, Psychology Department, Whitworth College, Spokane.

Bibliographic information