Evil Men

Evil Men

Book - 2013
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Presented with accounts of genocide and torture, we ask how people could bring themselves to commit such horrendous acts. A searching meditation on our all-too-human capacity for inhumanity, Evil Men confronts atrocity head-onâe"how it looks and feels, what motivates it, how it can be stopped.

Drawing on firsthand interviews with convicted war criminals from the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937âe"1945), James Dawes leads us into the frightening territory where soldiers perpetrated some of the worst crimes imaginable: murder, torture, rape, medical experimentation on living subjects. Transcending conventional reporting and commentary, Dawesâe(tm)s narrative weaves together unforgettable segments from the interviews with consideration of the troubling issues they raise. Telling the personal story of his journey to Japan, Dawes also lays bare the cultural misunderstandings and ethical compromises that at times called the legitimacy of his entire project into question. For this book is not just about the things war criminals do. It is about what it is like, and what it means, to befriend them.

Do our stories of evil deeds make a difference? Can we depict atrocity without sensational curiosity? Anguished and unflinchingly honest, as eloquent as it is raw and painful, Evil Men asks hard questions about the most disturbing capabilities human beings possess, and acknowledges that these questions may have no comforting answers.

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, [2013].
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780674072657
Branch Call Number: 940.5405 DAW
Characteristics: xiv, 263 pages ; 22 cm


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Dec 14, 2017

I found it awkward to rate this book, but I found it relatively easy to read. The matter comes down to the structure of the work: its an essay that is 224 pages long, with no chapters, subtitles, or headings. It mixes summaries of interviews, some aspects of psychological research, excerpts of interviews, summaries of events, pondering and examination of moral complexities, and a lot of mealy-mouthed hand-wringing and blather on the part of the author. This last aspect is the one I disliked the most. There is no bibliography so one is forced to scrounge through the extensive notes to try to find a particular reference. There are many insights and questions in the text that are both piercing and necessary for the reader to contemplate.

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