Print ISBN: 978-1-63700-013-7
# of Pages: 628
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-63700-014-4
eBook User Price: $295
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Defining Documents in World History: Genocide & The Holocaust

Editor: Michael J. O'Neal, PhD
October 2021

Defining Documents in World History: Genocide and the Holocaust offers in-depth analysis of 63 primary source documents, tracing the role that genocide has played in history, from the 1428 BCE to today. These include book excerpts, speeches, political debates, testimony, court rulings, legal texts, legislative acts, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, and interviews.

Genocide is the deliberate destruction of a national, ethnic, or religious group. While this has occurred throughout history, one of the most well-known genocides is the holocaust of World War II — Nazi efforts to eliminate millions of Jews, while also persecuting Poles, Rom (Gypsies), and other groups. Before them, the Armenians suffered a similar fate under Turkey. More recent examples of genocidal action are the “ethnic cleansing” that took place under the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo; the Hutu slaughter of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda in 1994; the attempt by the Islamic State in Iraq to eliminate the Yazidis; and the mass killing and expulsion of the Rohingya in Myanmar. China’s attempt to erase the culture of the Uighurs is a case of ethnocide — a genocide component that exterminates national cultures. In the America’s, too, genocidal campaigns were waged against Native American peoples.

The first volume of this set focuses on The Mithridatic Wars, the Framework for the African Union, the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, and ISIS Crimes against the Yazidis. The second volume is dedicated to themes such as ethnic cleansing, the Nazi Holocaust and the aftermath of genocide, including: The Crisis in Darfur, the Civil War in Biafra, the Refusal of Proposed Air Action to Impede Deportation of Jews, and Elie Wiesel’s Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018. These documents, and more, provide an overview of the history and contemporary issues surrounding genocide and the Holocaust.

The material is organized into eight sections, and each section begins with a brief introduc­tion that examines the titular subject before exploring a variety of historical documents.

  • What Is Genocide? includes documents that track the origins of the word “genocide” and how it was created, as well as how punishment for crimes of genocide became written into international law by the United Nations.
  • Ancient Genocides includes documents on older instances of genocide from the Siege of Jotapata, the Roman genocide against Carthage, and Genghis Khan’s atrocities against the population of Nishapur.
  • Religious Genocide explores the complicated relationship between genocide and religion with a look into documents regarding the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the 1980s, the attacks of Boko Haram against Christians, fundamentalist ISIS followers against the Yazidis in Iraq, and the Chinese government’s acts toward the Uyghur’s in the Xinjiang region as some examples.
  • Political Genocide covers genocide perpetrated because of political or ideological divisions, in which the group in power regards another group as a threat to its legitimacy or position — some highlighted examples being the genocide committed by the German military against the Belgium people as it marched into Belgium during World War I, the brutal invasion of China and its then capital city of Nanjing by the Japanese Empire, and the Red Terror in Ethiopia by the Dengue government against competing Marxist-Leninist groups.  
  • Ethnic Cleansing provides such important documents as a Letter to the American Ambassador on the Armenian Genocide, Proclamation of 1908 by the Young Turks, the “Final Report of the United Nations Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992): Annex IV: The policy of ethnic cleansing.” regarding the policy of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and more.
  • The Nazi Holocaust includes the Quaker Letter Regarding the Plight of German Jews, the Memo To the US State Department Regarding Nazi Plans to Eliminate Jews, the Telegram Confirming Reports of Mass Executions of Polish Jews, plus more documents.
  • The Americas highlights more resources from North and South America with President Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress on Indian Removal, to A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government’s Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes by Helen Hunt Jackson, to “Brazilian Experts warn of Uncontacted Tribes ‘Genocide’ After Sacking of Government Coordinator”.
  • The Aftermath of Genocide brings readers into modern times with the Opening Address for the United States at the Second Day of the Nuremberg Trials, President Truman’s statement on the Immigration of Jews to Palestine, the Elie Wiesel genocide and Atrocities Preventions Act of 2018, and more.

Each Historical Document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, About the Author, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section that provides suggestions for further readings and research.

Appendixes in this book include:

  • Chronological List which arranges all documents by year;
  • Web Resources, an annotated list of websites that offer valuable supplemental resources;
  • Bibliography lists of helpful articles and books for further study

About the Series

The Defining Documents series provides in-depth commentary and analysis on the most important primary source documents in the United States and the world. The Defining Documents series is perfect for students, those researching a particular era, or anyone interested in world history. Visit for more information about additional titles in this series.

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