Book Review: Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds • The US Government’s Complicity in Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 

Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds The US Government’s Complicity in Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 
By Samuel Totten
494 pages • ISBN 978-1-4426-3526-5

Samuel Totten is Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. He has published extensively on the subject of genocide and is founding co-editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.

These original essays show how the US government repeatedly aided certain regimes as they planned and then carried out crimes against humanity including genocide. What makes the collection unique—and chilling—is the inclusion of declassified documents generated by the US government at the time: memoranda, telegrams, letters, talking points, cables, discussion papers, and situation reports.

In his introduction, Totten offers a critical assessment of US foreign policy as it pertains to genocide and crimes against humanity, and discusses the differences between those two terms. In the chapters that follow, each author presents a detailed analysis of a particular case of crimes against humanity or genocide by a foreign government against its own citizens, and discusses why and how the United States government was complicit.

“How can this happen in our name? These chilling accounts of how a democratically elected government gets away with aiding and abetting the mass murder of foreigners should outrage every decent citizen. What is our duty when our rulers betray the moral basis of the consent we give them to govern us?”

MUKESH KAPILA, former United Nations resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan and author of AGAINST A TIDE OF EVIL.

"I know of no other work like Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds. The book inclides a series of compelling essays that examine US complicity in the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by other nations' governments. This is a book I shall definitely require in my course on international humanitarianism and human rights."

JOHN HUBBEL WEISS, Cornell University

“Totten and his co-authors confront an issue long present in genocide studies literature but rarely addressed on its own: the role of the US in some of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century. In cogent analytical essays followed by illustrative, sometimes shocking, primary documents, Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds lays bare the ways in which America's geopolitical and ideological self-interest led the world's superpower to support or simply turn a blind eye to the murderous plans of some of the worst regimes in recent history."

MAUREEN S. HIEBERT, University of Calgary