There was a good deal of information and this book seems like a good place to start a study of genocide. That said, Kiernans coverage of genocidal episodes was uneven and toward the end of the book it felt like he lost his commitment to the subject and just wanted to finish it already. Kiernan claims that the famine was caused by the failure of the potato crop. During the 1840's when the potato failed in Ireland, it also failed in several other countries but starvation didn't result because those governments put in place measure to ensure people didn't starve.
The book starts with examples from antiquity like Sparta and the destruction of Carthage, to later go to the Spanish conquest of Meso- and South America, going further to the genocides in the Vietnamese destruction of Champa, the Japanese invasion and genocide of Korea under Emperor Hidejoshi, leading to a chapter on genocidal massacres in Southeast Asia. And when you read this, you know how much hypocrisy there is in the public discourse on genocide, you see in Tasmania we also had public calls for extermination of the Natives, openly and with barely any restraint and if these were Germans and not British settlers, I am pretty sure they would have been called Nazis already and no one would dare call it anything but a genocide (especially since here wide parts of the public definitely were openly involved) but I guess as this is Tasmania it is totally different...
Colonial North America chapter starts out really dry but then it gets going once the reader reaches the massacres perpetrated by the English in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, it's horrific to think that some of these beautiful New England places are really sites of mass murder: the Narangassets of Rhode Island exterminated, the Pequots of Mystic completely annihilated, et. The chapter that deals with the 18th century shows that Thomas Jefferson often ordered or condoned mass extermination of native Americans while he was a president, in fact he seems just as scary as Andrew Jackson, and Stephen Austin as well while he governed Texas.
What a depressing book! I am sure I would know more about world history if I had read the whole book but the depressing topic and the inability to see this book directly affecting my dissertation lead me to skip whole chapters on horrible atrocities. For example, the English conquest of Ireland provided a precedent for the genocide that occurred in North America.
Its awfully depressing to read how some of these conflicts started so small, and grew to people trying to erase certain groups of people from existence. Youd think something as horrible as the Jewish people being slaughtered would make the people of the world decide something like that will never happen ever again, but we slip back into it so easily, where now it doesnt seem to get much publicity unless someone makes a movie about it.
A pity for a book where the title appears to promise a complete and equally detailed description of the various instances of genocide throughout history.