The Magnitude of Genocide
by Colin Tatz and Winton Higgins
March 2016, 296pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3160-7
$76, £59, 67€, A105
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3161-4
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Genocides are neither easily prevented nor snuffed out by military intervention or diplomatic measures.

This book defines genocide, distinguishing it from mass murder, war crimes, and other atrocities; allows readers to grasp the magnitude of the crime of genocide across time and throughout human civilization; and facilitates an understanding of new and potential cases of genocide as they occur.

Recently, the topic of intervention against genocide has received attention in global politics and the national political discourse of major countries. The challenges in confronting genocide and attempting to make a positive change are manifold. Simply establishing an agreement on the legal definition of genocide—and distinguishing it from genocidal massacres, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity—is problematic. This book provides a valuable resource for students, scholars, and journalists when public awareness of, and interest in, genocide has reached unprecedented levels. Written in an accessible way for a broad readership, the book makes use of case studies to enable an understanding of emerging and potential genocide with the necessary depth of coverage to evaluate critically the ways in which the United Nations and national governments engage them.

Readers will understand the essential ingredients of genocide, from antiquity to the present, and grasp the extent of the crime across human history. A variety of case studies provides a means to measure genocidal magnitudes in terms of their intent and motive, geographical extent, pace, method, participants, outcomes, legacies, punishments, and reparations. A unique and crucial feature of the book is that it gives as much attention to the differences among genocides—for example, between a large-scale genocide like the Holocaust and the extermination of a 500-person Amazonian tribe—while still treating both within a single conceptual framework of genocide, without “discounting” the smaller case.


  • Illustrates the myriad problems inherent in genocide prevention and in the punishment of perpetrators
  • Analyzes why the nation-states that have the capacity to prevent or intervene against a genocide typically avoid doing so
  • Discusses the nature of and reasons underlying genocide denial
  • Examines the different kinds and scales of the impact of genocide on victim groups and on the perpetrators
Colin Tatz is visiting professor of politics and international relations at the Australian National University in Canberra and founding director of the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Sydney. He works in the fields of comparative race politics, Holocaust and genocide studies, youth suicide, and sport history. He has held chairs of politics at two Australian universities.

Winton Higgins is visiting fellow at the University of Technology Sydney and a director of the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He has taught and published in genocide studies, political theory, political economy, organizational studies, and Swedish political history. He was a senior member of the politics discipline at Macquarie University, Sydney.


"The Magnitude of Genocide is a valuable comparative study. The wide-ranging subject matter and strong contemporary relevance of the volume make it a compelling read. Tatz and Higgins have presented their arguments in engaging and accessible prose, creating a volume with great appeal for scholars, students, and interested members of the public alike. Highly recommended."—Plus61J, July 27, 2016

"The Magnitude of Genocide is an amazingly readable intellectual tour de force. Rarely have I seen the dread topic of genocide addressed so humanely and interestingly. Tatz and Higgins also do not stop at the past or vague portents of the future, and they dare to take on courageously Islamic fundamentalism, and even the dangers of undue free speech, such as on Internet, as enabling hate speech and the detonation of genocidal explosions. Strangely, this is even a book to enjoy."—Israel W. Charny, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem, editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide and author of Fascism and Democracy in the Human Mind

"This is a finely written, comprehensive, and authoritative account of the worst of all crimes. Those with genocidal intent still stalk the world today, playing for political purposes with the fire of ethnic and religious fervor, twisting human nature so that it can contemplate—and commit—a crime against humanity. This book is necessary reading on the way to a better world."—Geoffrey Robertson QC, Founder and Head, Doughty Street Chambers and author of An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians?

"The Magnitude of Genocide is a unique, wide-ranging, thoughtful, revealing, important, and up-to-date study of a pressing subject. It is well-researched, distills decades of experience and expertise, and addresses many of the key issues involved in confronting the scourge of genocide."—Ben Kiernan, Yale University, author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur

"The Magnitude of Genocide is a wide ranging, lucid exploration of genocide as modern and ancient practice. Tatz's and Higgins’s global engagement with the contemporary crises surrounding genocide and mass-killing provides an important perspective on the future of our species."—Peter Balakian, author of Black Dog of Fate and The Burning Tigris

"This is a landmark comparative study of contemporary genocide, including the Holocaust. Touching on issues of causality, rescue, denial, punishment, prediction, and prevention, it is wide-ranging in its scope and written with directness and clarity."—Robert Melson, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University

"This is a marvelous study which is not afraid to ask the Big Questions relating to genocide in the modern world. Tatz and Higgins have not held back from painting on a large canvas with very wide brushstrokes; the result is a work in which a plethora of fine details combine to depict an image which is, sadly, one of the defining characteristics of modern society. This is work which cries out to be read."—Paul R. Bartrop, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida

"The brave work represents a lifetime's achievement in dissecting and analysing the nature of genocide."—Dr Mark Levene, Reader in Comparative History, University of Southampton

"It is a distinct pleasure for me to warmly recommend Magnitude of Genocide to readers interested in fighting mass atrocity crimes—not only students and academic teachers, but also people in civil society and political decision makers who are looking for ways and means to prevent the massive, scandalous, loss of lives that humanity has witnessed for times immemorial.It is an effort to deal with genocide as such, that is with the whole range of human activities that are designed to murder other humans. Special, but not exclusive, attention is given to the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and of course the Australian case. Common traits are described and analyzed, as well as specific conditions in a number of cases. Based on an impressive variety of sources, from a number of disciplines, this volume by Tatz and Higgins is a 'must read.'"—Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Academic Adviser, Yad Vashem; Member of the Israeli Academy of Science

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