Genocide is “ubiquitous in the history of mankind” (3). That was the conclusion advanced by Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term; drew modern attention to the religious, racial, and political extermination or attempted extermination of a people or a group on those or any other grounds; and zealously promoted what became the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Unfortunately, Lemkin had to compromise on the final central wording of the Convention. Its definition was watered down merely (but still importantly) to single out acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such (3).”1

This book is a deft, accessible, survey of humankind’s assault on groups out of favor with rulers and hegemonic imperial or national powers. Beginning with a quick glance at the Old Testament (“Thou shall smite them, and utterly destroy them”);...

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