Atrocitology: Humanity's 100 Deadliest Achievements

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Canongate Books, Oct 20, 2011 - History - 640 pages
2 Reviews
Was the twentieth century the most violent in history? Are religions or tyrants, capitalism or communism the cause of most human suffering? Has violence increased or decreased over the course of history? In this wholly original and remarkably ambitious work, 'Atrocitologist' Matthew White considers man's inhumanity to man across several thousand years of history. From the First Punic War and the collapse of Mayan rule, to the reign of Peter the Great and the cataclysmic events of the Second World War, White's epic book spans centuries and civilisations as it measures the hundred most violent events in human history. While sceptical of any grand theory for the causes of human violence, White does share three big lessons gleaned from his careful statistical analysis: one, chaos is more deadly than tyranny; two, the world is even more disorganised than we realise; and three, wars kill more civilians than soldiers (in fact, the army is usually the safest place to be). If we study history to avoid the mistakes of the past, then there can be no more important place to start than this eye-opening and entertaining book.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MarkBeronte - LibraryThing

Evangelists of human progress meet their opposite in Matthew White's epic examination of history's one hundred most violent events, or, in White's piquant phrasing, "the numbers that people want to ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BruceCoulson - LibraryThing

White had me when he described his methodology for determining how many people died. Tax records (and what government doesn't keep careful records of those?), expenditures for handling bodies, other ... Read full review

About the author (2011)

Matthew White has worked as a law librarian for the past twenty years. In 1997 he began his online Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, which won several awards in the early days of the internet. His database of atrocity statistics has become the most popular and widely cited section of the Atlas. Over the years, he has corresponded with many scholars, such as Steven Pinker and Martin Gilbert, and his research has been cited by forty-five published books and over eighty scholarly articles. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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