Is the Holocaust Unique?

Perspectives on Comparative Genocide

Edited by Alan S. Rosenbaum

Third Edition • December 1, 2008 • 400 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813344065 • $49.00 USD$53.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786727452 • $29.99 USD$34.99 CAN

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In essays written specifically for this volume, distinguished contributors assess highly charged and fundamental questions about the Holocaust: Is it unique? How can it be compared with other instances of genocide? What constitutes genocide, and how should the international community respond? On one side of the dispute are those who fear that if the Holocaust is seen as the worst case of genocide ever, its character will diminish the sufferings of other persecuted groups. On the other side are those who argue that unless the Holocaust’s uniqueness is established, the inevitable tendency will be to diminish its abiding significance.

The editor’s introductions provide the contextual considerations for understanding this multidimensional dispute and suggest that there are universal lessons to be learned from studying the Holocaust. The third edition brings this volume up to date and includes new readings on the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, common themes in genocide ideologies, and Iran’s reaction to the Holocaust. In a world where genocide persists and the global community continues to struggle with the implications of international crime, prosecution, justice, atonement, reparation, and healing, the issues addressed in this book are as relevant as ever.

Alan S. Rosenbaum is professor of philosophy at Cleveland State University and the author of Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals; The Philosophy of Human Rights; Coercion and Autonomy; and Constitutionalism: The Philosophical Dimension. His many articles have appeared in professional publications such as The Encyclopedia of Genocide; The National Law Journal; The International Journal of Applied Philosophy; The Genocidal Mind; and The Journal of Social Philosophy.

Foreword, Israel W. Charny

Introduction to the First Edition, Alan S. Rosenbaum
Introduction to the Second Edition, Alan S. Rosenbaum
Introduction to the Third Edition, Alan S. Rosenbaum

1. The Ethics of Uniqueness, John K. Roth
2. Religion and the Uniqueness of the Holocaust, Richard L. Rubenstein
3. From the Holocaust: Some Legal and Moral Implications, Richard J. Goldstone
4. The Uniqueness of the Holocaust: The Historical Dimension, Steven T. Katz
5. Responses to the Porrajmos: The Romani Holocaust, Ian Hancock
6. The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Holocaust: A Comparative Analysis, Seymour Drescher
7. The Armenian Genocide as Precursor and Prototype of Twentieth-Century Genocide, Robert F. Melson
8. The Comparative Aspects of the Armenian and Jewish Cases of Genocide: A Sociohistorical Perspective, Vahakn N. Dadrian
9. Stalinist Terror and the Question of Genocide: The Great Famine, Barbara B. Green
10. The Holocaust and the Japanese Atrocities, Kinue Tokudome
11. The Holocaust, Rwanda and the Category of Genocide, Jerry Fowler
12. Hitler, Pol Pot, and Hutu Power: Common Themes in Genocidal Ideologies, Ben Kiernan
13. “Global Vision”: Iran’s Holocaust Denial, Matthias Küntzel
14. The Promise and Limits of Comparison: The Holocaust and the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, Scott Straus
15. Applying the Lessons of the Holocaust, Shimon Samuels
16. The Rise and Fall of Metaphor: German Historians and the Uniqueness of the Holocaust, Wulf Kansteiner
17. Uniqueness as Denial: The Politics of Genocide Scholarship, David E. Stannard

About the Book and Contributors

Is the Holocaust Unique? is firmly established as a classic of Holocaust and genocide studies. This third edition, with its wealth of new essays and insights, is the richest and most provocative yet.”
—Adam Jones, University of British Columbia Okanagan, author of Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction

“Professor Rosenbaum has masterfully edited a landmark in this comprehensive, well-balanced, and compassionate study of the most systematic attempt at annihilating an entire race in the history of humankind. Seen in light of a current trend toward justice violations—from torture and extraordinary rendition to ‘preemptive’ war—the chapters of this volume may be potent reminders of just how violable the line is between sanity and savagery.”
—Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Editor, International Journal of Applied Philosophy

“With no dearth of ongoing challenges to human rights around the world, including the continued conflicts in Africa and renewed attention on global legal issues such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, the general theme of the book is as timely as ever. … This volume is intended to provide food for thought and provoke ongoing inquiry into questions of comparative genocide. It surely does.”
Cleveland Jewish News

In the third edition of this book, Alan Rosenbaum has collected a selection of brilliant, incendiary, and questionable essays addressing a sensitive yet much argued question. … Is the Holocaust Unique? is a challenging and valuable book for many readers. … Rosenbaum’s collection of essays helps to build awareness and knowledge about the roots of genocidal violence.
Feminist Review

Praise for previous editions:

An important book.… This is definitely a book to promote thought, discussion, and debate. It should be purchased by all libraries and used not only by students of the Holocaust but by historians, philosophers, theologians, and political scientists.

The collection will be of particular interest to teachers who attempt to place in perspective such events as those in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Cambodia in light of this history of genocide.

A thought-provoking inquiry into the Holocaust.
Jewish Book World

This book has stirred up a hornet’s nest.
The Times Literary Supplement

Intellectual engagement at its best. Thought-provoking and confrontational scholars present their assessments and disagree with each other in revealing and direct essays. While few perspectives emerge unscathed, the field is enhanced and the issue illumined.
—Michael Berenbaum, United States Holocaust Research Institute

The uniqueness of the Holocaust remains a question as politically charged as it is philosophically vexed. Without solving this possibly unsolvable problem, these essays reveal every side of the question, including some of the most extreme. This book provides an invaluable service to readers struggling with the definition of genocide, this century’s unenviable contribution to the human vocabulary.
—David Biale, Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

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