Blood and Soil - Kiernan, Ben - Yale University Press

Political Science
Social Science

Blood and Soil

A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur

  • Ben Kiernan
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A 2007 Top Seller in Sociology as compiled by YBP Library Services

Winner of the 2008 gold medal for the best book in History awarded by the Independent Publishers Association

Winner of the 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize for the best book in Holocaust Studies published in 2007-2008, given by the German Studies Association

The German edition, Erde und Blut: Völkermord und Vernichtung von der Antike bis heute, won first place in Germany’s Nonfiction Book of the Month Prize Die Sachbücher des Monats, sponsored by Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR Kultur (June 2009)

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript of Kiernan's recent interview at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Listen to Kiernan's recent interview on The World in Time hosted by Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Lapham's Quarterly .

Click here for an extended question & answer discussion with the author.

For thirty years Ben Kiernan has been deeply involved in the study of genocide and crimes against humanity. He has played a key role in unearthing confidential documentation of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. His writings have transformed our understanding not only of twentieth-century Cambodia but also of the historical phenomenon of genocide. This new book—the first global history of genocide and extermination from ancient times—is among his most important achievements.


Kiernan examines outbreaks of mass violence from the classical era to the present, focusing on worldwide colonial exterminations and twentieth-century case studies including the Armenian genocide, the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s mass murders, and the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides. He identifies connections, patterns, and features that in nearly every case gave early warning of the catastrophe to come: racism or religious prejudice, territorial expansionism, and cults of antiquity and agrarianism. The ideologies that have motivated perpetrators of mass killings in the past persist in our new century, says Kiernan. He urges that we heed the rich historical evidence with its telltale signs for predicting and preventing future genocides.

Ben Kiernan is the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History, professor of international and area studies, and the founding director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University (www.yale.edu/gsp). His previous books include How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930–1975 and The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979, published by Yale University Press.



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