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Synopsis

Violence so often begets violence. Victims respond with revenge only to inspire seemingly endless cycles of retaliation. Conflicts between nations, between ethnic groups, between strangers, and between family members differ in so many ways and yet often share this dynamic. In this powerful and timely book Martha Minow and others ask: What explains these cycles and what can break them? What lessons can we draw from one form of violence that might be relevant to other forms? Can legal responses to violence provide accountability but avoid escalating vengeance? If so, what kinds of legal institutions and practices can make a difference? What kinds risk failure?

Breaking the Cycles of Hatred represents a unique blend of political and legal theory, one that focuses on the double-edged role of memory in fueling cycles of hatred and maintaining justice and personal integrity. Its centerpiece comprises three penetrating essays by Minow. She argues that innovative legal institutions and practices, such as truth commissions and civil damage actions against groups that sponsor hate, often work better than more conventional criminal proceedings and sanctions. Minow also calls for more sustained attention to the underlying dynamics of violence, the connections between intergroup and intrafamily violence, and the wide range of possible responses to violence beyond criminalization.

A vibrant set of freestanding responses from experts in political theory, psychology, history, and law examines past and potential avenues for breaking cycles of violence and for deepening our capacity to avoid becoming what we hate. The topics include hate crimes and hate-crimes legislation, child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations, and the American kidnapping and internment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II. Commissioned by Nancy Rosenblum, the essays are by Ross E. Cheit, Marc Galanter, Fredrick C. Harris, Judith Lewis Herman, Carey Jaros, Frederick M. Lawrence, Austin Sarat, Ayelet Shachar, Eric K. Yamamoto, and Iris Marion Young.

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