Genocide, Mass Atrocity, and War Crimes in Modern History
Blood and Conscience
by James Larry Taulbee
February 2017, 696pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
2 volumes, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2984-0
$158, £122, 138€, A217
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2985-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

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?

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
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, August 1, 2017

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