rusq: Vol. 53 Issue 3: p. 273
Sources: Atrocities, Massacres, and War Crimes: An Encyclopedia
Brent D. Singleton

Coordinator for Reference Services, California State University, San Bernardino, California

Since the 1990s, the rise of conflicts involving mass killings and war crimes in places such as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Darfur have unfortunately been all too common. With renewed concern and interest in these brutal conflicts, many reference works on the subject of genocide and war crimes have been published in the past fifteen years. Titles such as Israel W. Charny’s Encyclopedia of Genocide (ABC-Clio, 1999), Dinah Shelton’s Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity (Macmillan, 2005), Leslie Alan Horvitz and Christopher Catherwood’s Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide, Revised edition (Facts on File, 2011) as well as other works detailing specific events have proliferated.

This work contains over 400 entries across all eras of history but is focused on the twentieth century. The editor’s purpose was to present entries on selected events written in an accessible language devoid of jargon and overly sophisticated explanations but still scholarly in approach. In this regard, the editor was successful in crafting a work suitable for the novice researcher, in particular for undergraduates and below.

However, this set has at least one troubling and inexplicable omission in the article entries as well as in access points. Despite it being the site of some of the most horrific events in Europe since the Holocaust, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have its own article entry. In fact, it is not even listed in the “Categorical Index—Places” or the general “Subject Index.” There is an entry for “Croatia,” which includes information from World War II as well as atrocities occurring during the breakup of Yugoslavia. To find Bosnia, the reader would have to have the forethought to look under “Yugoslavian Civil Wars (1991–1995,1998–2001),” a tall task for the novice researcher. Kosovo was rightly given its own article entry, but one might wonder if the editor was going for simplicity instead comprehensiveness, why was Kosovo not lumped in the broader “Yugoslavian Civil Wars” entry, too? To be fair, there are works listed in the “General Bibliography” and article entries for some massacres in Bosnia, but how is the uninitiated reader supposed to find them without index or article entries for the country in which they occurred? The reader is left wondering about other possible oversights in this set. There is still value in the work, but selectors should beware of its possible limitations and omissions when considering its purchase.



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