Genocide, Mass Atrocity, and War Crimes in Modern History

Blood and Conscience

by James Larry Taulbee


Why are certain acts during a war deemed "crimes" when war in itself is an exercise that requires people to commit the ultimate crime of murder?

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Cover image for Genocide, Mass Atrocity, and War Crimes in Modern History

February 2017


Pages 696
Volumes 2
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/Conflict
  Current Events and Issues/Law and Crime

Defining "genocide" as an international crime, this two-volume set provides a comparative study of historical cases of genocide and mass atrocity—clearly identifying the factors that produced the attitudes and behaviors that led to them—discusses the reasons for rules in war, and examines how the five principles laid out in the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements have functioned in modern warfare.

Written by an expert on international politics and law, Genocide, Mass Atrocity, and War Crimes in Modern History: Blood and Conscience is an easy-to-understand resource that explains why genocides and other atrocities occur, why humanity saw the need to create rules that apply during war, and how culture, rules about war, and the nature of war intersect.

The first volume addresses the history and development of the normative regime(s) that define genocide and mass atrocity. Through a comparative study of historical cases that pay particular attention to the factors involved in producing the attitudes and behaviors that led to the incidents of mass slaughter and mistreatment, the author identifies the reasons that genocides and mass atrocities in the 20th century were largely ignored until the early 1990s and why even starting then, responses were inconsistent.

The second book discusses why rules in war exist, which factors may lead to the adoption of rules, what defines a war "crime," and how the five fundamental principles laid out in the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements have actually functioned in modern warfare. It also poses—and answers—the interesting question of why we should obey rules when our opponents do not. The final chapter examines what actions could serve to identify future situations in which mass atrocities may occur and identifies the problems of timely humanitarian intervention in international affairs.


  • Presents a comparative perspective and detailed historical background for each case that emphasizes how many different factors may lead to atrocity/genocide
  • Discusses the difficulty of organizing international efforts to intervene to prevent atrocities or to respond at the moment they are occurring
  • Explains why international prosecutions for genocide are difficult even though the goal of the law is to hold responsible those in charge as well as the planners and instigators
  • Identifies how cultural factors affect individual attitudes toward what is accepted as legitimate behavior in combat
  • Focuses on the "law in action" with illustrations from specific cases
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

James Larry Taulbee, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He is author of Praeger's International Crime and Punishment: A Guide to the Issues and the coauthor of Law Among Nations: An Introduction to Public International Law (11th edition, forthcoming 2017) and Norway's Peace Policy: Soft Power in a Turbulent World. Taulbee served as a member of the Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Terrorism leading up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.



"These volumes provide readers with a strong background on the issue and its current state, using several examples throughout. The well-researched and documented volumes serve as both a reference in themselves and as a springboard to delve further into the areas examined. Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

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Other Titles of Interest

Encountering Genocide cover imageA Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide cover imageThe Future of Counterinsurgency cover image
Gender, War, and Militarism cover imageHuman Rights, Human Security, and State Security cover imageThe Magnitude of Genocide cover image

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