Book pick: 'Evil Men' by James Dawes

"Evil Men"
The cover of "Evil Men" by Macalester professor James Dawes.
Submitted photo

Tom Weber's book pick of the week is "Evil Men" by Macalester College Prof. James Dawes.

An excerpt from a review in Publishers Weekly:

"In this complex examination of people's potential for cruelty, as well as the difficult ethics of discussing them, Dawes focuses on interviews with Japanese war criminals who committed torture and rape in occupied China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). He intersperses the stories of these now-elderly men with explorations into related issues, such as methods of turning hesitant men into vicious killers ('take a group of poorly trained young people, put them in a strange and frightening environment, and give them unclear roles with light or no regulation')."

The review continues: "He looks at recent psychological experiments that demonstrate how easily people can be influenced by groups or authority figures into going against their better judgment."

Dawes is the chairman of the English Department at Macalester.

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