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Origins of Political Extremism

Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Manus I. Midlarsky (Rutgers University, New Jersey)



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Cambridge University Press
07 April 2011
Political extremism is one of the most pernicious, destructive, and nihilistic forms of human expression. During the twentieth century, in excess of 100 million people had their lives taken from them as the result of extremist violence. In this wide-ranging book Manus I. Midlarsky suggests that ephemeral gains, together with mortality salience, form basic explanations for the origins of political extremism and constitute a theoretical framework that also explains later mass violence. Midlarsky applies his framework to multiple forms of political extremism, including the rise of Italian, Hungarian and Romanian fascism, Nazism, radical Islamism, and Soviet, Chinese and Cambodian communism. Other applications include a rampaging military (Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia) and extreme nationalism in Serbia, Croatia, the Ottoman Empire and Rwanda. Polish anti-Semitism after World War II and the rise of separatist violence in Sri Lanka are also examined.
By:   Manus I. Midlarsky (Rutgers University New Jersey)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 228mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   690g
ISBN:   9780521700719
ISBN 10:   052170071X
Pages:   442
Publication Date:   07 April 2011
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Manus I. Midlarsky is the Moses and Annuta Back Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Reviews for Origins of Political Extremism: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Advance praise: 'Midlarsky elegantly weaves insights from modern social psychology with macro-historical analysis to produce an original theory of the emergence of violent extremist movements. With its innovative theoretical framework and its command of an impressive range of historical evidence, this fascinating book will make a lasting impact on the literature on extremism and political violence.' Giovanni Capoccia, Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Oxford 'From Fascism to Communism to Radical Islam, from South Asia to the Balkans, and with insights from social psychology, history, philosophy, and more, this book is staggering in its breadth. Midlarsky makes a compelling case on how territorial loss can produce political extremism and mass killing. This is a book not just about the past, but what we might behold in the future.' Paul F. Diehl, Henning Larsen Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 'Rarely does the timing of a book's publication coincide so well with the relevance of its subject matter in the real world. In this age of extremes, Midlarsky's masterful volume carefully guides us through what motivates and drives people to political violence; highlighting - as only an experienced scholar can - the key unifying elements in otherwise disparate-seeming cases across time and space.' Monica Duffy Toft, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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