Genocide is a topic beset by ambiguities over meaning and double standards. In this stimulating and gripping history, William Rubinstein sets out to clarify the meaning of the term genocide and its historical evolution, and provides a working definition that informs the rest of the book. He makes the important argument that each instance of genocide is best understood within a particular historical framework and provides an original chronology of these distinct frameworks. In the final part of the book he critically examines a number of alleged past and recent genocides: from native Americans, slavery, the Irish famine, homosexuals and gypsies in the Nazi concentration camps, Yugoslavia, Rwanda through to the claims of pro-lifers and anti-abortionists.
William D. Rubinstein is at the University of Aberystwyth and has written The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis (Routledge, 1997).