Human Rights Review

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 279–280 | Cite as

Genocide: The Act as Idea by Berel Lang

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017
  • William R. Pruitt
Book Review

The word “genocide” was created in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin because the world had no word for the atrocities committed by the Germans during World War II. After coining the term, Lemkin spent the rest of his life fighting for recognition of the crime in international law. His hard work paid off in the adoption of the United Nations Genocide Convention, which includes a definition of the term in Article II. Yet since genocide was defined and criminalized, there has been argument over the word’s usage, usefulness, and effectiveness. In Genocide: The Act as Idea,Berel Lang confronts the critics of the term genocide by attempting to explain the importance of the word and defending its right to exist. Lang makes three key points as to why genocide needs to be kept in the linguistic parlance: (1) The word has attained a level of legal, moral, and popular acceptance; (2) objections to the term can be resolved via amendment to the original Convention; and (3) alternative words fail to grasp...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Wesleyan UniversityVirginia BeachUSA

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