Alexander Laban Hinton

Why Did They Kill?

In Why Did They Kill?, Professor Alexander Hinton analyzes the origins of genocide from an anthropological perspective. Focusing on the devastation that took place in Cambodia from April 1975 to January 1979 under the Khmer Rouge, this 2008 Stirling Prize-winning book explores why mass murder happens and what motivates perpetrators to kill. After years of investigative work in Cambodia, Hinton finds parallels between the Khmer Rouge and the Nazi regimes. Policies in Cambodia resulted in the deaths of over 1.7 million of that country's eight million inhabitants - almost a quarter of the population - who perished from starvation, overwork, illness, malnutrition, and execution. Hinton also is editor of Annihilating Difference: THe Anthropology of Genocide, Genocide: An Anthropological Reader, and Biocultural Approaches to the Emotions.

Reviewed in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2005