Lars Waldorf


The most troubling and perplexing aspect of the Rwandan Genocide is why so many joined the killings so quickly. This participation seems even less comprehensible given the violence’s terrifying intimacy: ordinary killers often turned on their Tutsi neighbors and family members, using machetes and other everyday tools. Searching for answers, journalists and even some scholars have clutched at comforting metaphors and mono-causal explanations: a ‘‘blood orgy,’’ tribalism, ethnic hatred, hate radio, a ‘‘culture of obedience,’’ structural violence, and ‘‘conspiracy to murder.’’ With bracing clarity and scrupulous fairness, Scott Straus painstakingly demolishes these simplistic notions and sets a new standard for empirical research on mass violence in The Order of Genocide.