In the dry, stuffy world of historical non-fiction, humor must be taboo. I've read enough boring, bland history books to fill a small library. I don't recall ever seeing words like "bewigged" and "sissies" or phrases like "...because nobody likes a smartass" or "another damn African civil war " in any of them. This author - even as he delves deep into the most horrific events in human history - can find the time to communicate the thoughts the reader certainly has going through their mind at the time.
Snarkiness aside, the author also delivers the cold, hard facts of murder and mayhem for a topic that is virtually- with few exceptions - glossed over in classroom history texts. He managed to put each event into chronological and political perspective that even the most knowledgeable historian, professional and couch potato alike, can learn from.
My biggest takeaway was the realization that mass murder, starvation, tyranny, and misery are the true cornerstones of the human condition. We in the west especially the USA, have lived more or less in a vacuum, a protective cocoon from that kind of pain for over a hundred years. We fail to realize how tenuous, rare and temporary this kind of peace really is. This book should be required reading in all civics, history and government classes throughout the country. Knowing how our little sliver of time fits inside the overall march of humankind's last 5,000 or so years may cause some of us to turn off the Pokemon app, put down the protest signs, and get on with doing something meaningful.
I read this book a few years ago under its original title of The Great Big Book of Horrible Things. I’m re-reading it now because it’s oddly comforting to see how bad things have been in ages past. Somehow, humanity made it to 2017, so there’s a good chance we’ll make it through again.
It's not a book you sit down and read in a sitting. Instead, it's great for moments of downtime, or a few chapters before bed.
This is a very important informative read. It tells us everything we need to know about human nature. It supports my belief that until our species understands our 'nature' we are doomed to repeat these 'atrocitites'. Should be required reading for all senior high school and college students.
I have long been a fan of the website and was happy to find there was a book to purchase. "Atrocities" is an excellent, thoughtful, and fact-filled compendium of death tolls and human suffering in a well-organized format. The author gives his opinions and discusses how he arrived at them based on available sources. Full of information and very readable.
Man's inhumanity to man on parade! A history text, a sociology primer, and casebook on deviant psychology superbly written and organized. Mr. White is a scholar. This, his witty, sometimes sardonic and comprehensive survey of human greed on a massive scale, teachers all one needs to know why man's defining characteristic is the willingness -- nay, compulsion -- to kill other human beings. No education is complete without a thorough reading of this delightful, appalling and altogether damning chronicle of that monster that is humankind.
What a chronicle of evil deeds on a massive scale! The author's clean and even-handed and light style keeps the horrificness of it all not just bearable but downright fascinating. How we manage to so efficiently find ways to slaughter ourselves, show the most savage of instincts and yet continue to grow and grow in population! A book about as solid as some very iffy historical evidence regarding numbers (and here is where a good deal of doubt creeps in) of the slaughtered and size of armies permits. Fascinating read.
It's big and it's horrible. Why do I read things like this...? Why 4 stars? It is a well researched and written book, of horrible things. Happily, most of history occurred before cameras and videos so you don't have to see all the gore. Why not 5 stars? Don't really like the way it's organized. The author explains why he chose and formated it like he did, just a difference of taste.