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States of Denial: Knowing about Atrocities and Suffering Paperback – Illustrated, Mar 5 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Polity (March 5 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745623921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745623924
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #313,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
One common thread runs through the many different stories of denial: people, organizations, governments or whole societies are presented with information that is too disturbing, threatening or anomalous to be fully absorbed or openly acknowledged. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering by Stanley Cohen was awarded the 2002 British Academy Book Prize.
Stanley Cohen is Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The book was reviewed in British newspapers. It was also reviewed in several magazines. The reviews were positive and gave it more than three stars.
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This is one of those "it should be required reading" books. Although his emphasis is on the larger mass atrocities and sufferings, Cohen examines denial from the personal to the political, from harmless "I'm not eating as many cookies as I really am," to the most horrendous "It's not torture; it's just heavy pressure" to the apathetic, "Gee, 5000 Ruwandans killed this week; I wonder how the Giants did last night." He concisely reviews the explanations of denial--Freudian, cognitive, etc--and neatly identifies the different types, styles, motives and cultural and personal collusions. Cohen's writing is clean, engaging, to the point, neither tediously over-intellectual nor patronzing, obviously well-researched and professional. He assumes his reader is familiar with basic social and political sciences and history and doesn't belabor points others have made. Most importantly, the book is compassionate, not in a gooey, all-is- forgiven and understood sense, but in its acknowledgement of denial as a universal of human behavior. Cohen handles an uncomfortable subject, not knowing what we know, a behavior of which we are all guilty, in a straight-forward, non-accusatory fashion. One has the sense that Cohen has not only being willing to see what goes on in a way that few have the courage to do, but that he has also refused to see, as we all do, and come to terms with his own denials, that his fastination with denial is not only as an observer but as a participant as well.
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I wrote a review of what I take as a significant distortion and failing of this book. I note that this review has not been posted on the site. I am wondering why?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I didn't know I knew what I didn't know Sept. 24 2001
By CS Bryson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one of those "it should be required reading" books. Although his emphasis is on the larger mass atrocities and sufferings, Cohen examines denial from the personal to the political, from harmless "I'm not eating as many cookies as I really am," to the most horrendous "It's not torture; it's just heavy pressure" to the apathetic, "Gee, 5000 Ruwandans killed this week; I wonder how the Giants did last night." He concisely reviews the explanations of denial--Freudian, cognitive, etc--and neatly identifies the different types, styles, motives and cultural and personal collusions. Cohen's writing is clean, engaging, to the point, neither tediously over-intellectual nor patronzing, obviously well-researched and professional. He assumes his reader is familiar with basic social and political sciences and history and doesn't belabor points others have made. Most importantly, the book is compassionate, not in a gooey, all-is- forgiven and understood sense, but in its acknowledgement of denial as a universal of human behavior. Cohen handles an uncomfortable subject, not knowing what we know, a behavior of which we are all guilty, in a straight-forward, non-accusatory fashion. One has the sense that Cohen has not only being willing to see what goes on in a way that few have the courage to do, but that he has also refused to see, as we all do, and come to terms with his own denials, that his fastination with denial is not only as an observer but as a participant as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Thought-provoking reading Aug. 13 2011
By SF Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Stanley Cohen's book is an extremely thought-provoking study of how modern states go about denying culpability in the face of accusations of atrocities and other wrongdoing. It is written in a readable, if somewhat schematic, style and draws on a wealth of cases -- the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the 'killing fields' of Cambodia, and others -- to give context to the book's main claims. A very useful read for any scholar interested in modern states, genocide, memory, or the politics of suffering.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
great Nov. 13 2012
By Greg C. Burke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great read. very inclusive to the whole issue and facts surround them. detail orientated, gets down to the facts and does away with everything that is just noise.

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