How do we prevent genocide? When does one have the right and moral obligation to intervene to stop mass violence? The books below offer explanations to these questions and will help students and teachers develop more informed opinions on intervention.
As an additional analysis tool, we have added the author's Carnegie Council lecture, often accompanied by the full audio, video clips, and a half-hour TV show. Students can explore these to get a better understanding of the process and theories behind the books and to discover whether the author presents any bias in their historical interpretations.
A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power (2002)
Why did the United States largely ignore the Rwandan genocide yet devote resources in Bosnia around the same time period? According to Samantha Power, the reason is "politics, politics, politics."
Recommended by a teacher because: Samantha Power, who later rose to become U.S. ambassador to the UN, analyzes why, even when we say "never again," genocide still occurs. She argues that although genocide is a deeply moral issue, intervention is greatly based upon politics. Through her writing, students can identify causes of genocide that extend beyond local factors, and analyze the harmful role of international inaction.
Carnegie Council lecture
Additional teaching tool: Watchers of the Sky
Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire (2004)
Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire was the force commander of UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda during the genocide. In this book, he recalls the agony of not being able to take action to halt the genocide because he lacked the authority from the UN as well as manpower and equipment. There is also a documentary based on the book.
Recommended by a teacher because: the United Nations and international community’s response to the Rwandan genocide was a marked failure. Dallaire's role in the tragedy has been skewed in films such as Hotel Rwanda. This book will allow students to understand the commander of UNAMIR's perspective as well as the guilt and horrors that he dealt with by not having the ability to stop the extreme tragedies in Rwanda.
Carnegie Council lecture and audio
All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals by David Scheffer (2013)
Scheffer, the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crime issues, was at the forefront of efforts leading to criminal tribunals for the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. His book is not only a personal history of his involvement in developing international justice systems in the 1990s, but is also a valuable record of U.S. efforts to establish the concept of accountability for mass atrocities as a central principle in international affairs.
Recommended by a teacher because: this book explains the challenges and politics involved in developing international institutions in what Scheffer calls the "new world" of the post-1990s. It can be used not only to teach a history of modern criminal tribunals, but also as a point of reference for students analyzing how much has changed over the past century concerning mass violence, prevention, justice, and culpability.
Carnegie Council lecture, audio and video clips
Interested in learning more about genocide and intervention? Visit our content resources page to explore more materials from Carnegie Council as well as recommended websites.