"This is an exceptionally important book. For those interested in understanding the circumstances in which mass killing takes place, Bergholz’s book is required—and deeply disquieting—reading."
— Robert Hayden, Journal of Cold War Studies
"With a nuanced and persuasive argument, Bergholz suggests that spates of violence forged new local alliances, loyalties, and identities in a place where ethnicity previously had not been much of a divisive element."
— John Ashbrook, American Historical Review
"Max Bergholz’s excitement at investment in and knowledge of the events around Kulen Vakuf in 1941 are beyond question. His framing of the archival discovery story speaks volumes to his meticulousness, focus, and commitment to contextual knowledge as the sine qua non of historical scholarship. He also has an eye for telling detail, offering cinematic-style close-ups that fill the frame and flood the reader’s senses. I found this book absorbing, vivid, and stimulating. Both author and Cornell University Press deserve credit for bringing this compelling story to light and to life. It commands admiration for its willingness to take on “inconvenient facts” and address an overlooked moment in history, as a means to disrupt persistent and prevalent ideas about groupness in the Balkans."
— Keith Brown, EuropeNow
"Meticulously researched and beautifully written… Given this incredible wealth of insight and my general agreement with many of premises and conclusions of this brilliant book (to call it a historical-sociological masterpiece would not be an exaggeration), it is a tall order to be critical."
— Veljko Vujačić, Canadian Slavonic Papers
"As Syria is disintegrating rapidly, the relevance of Bergholz’s book cannot be overstated. His approach and conclusions clearly resonate and set a research agenda for the Syrian catastrophe, especially considering the fact that Syria and Bosnia share some important sociological features and historical conditions. How did multi-ethnic and multi-religious coexistences in Syrian society break down? How did Syrians, in settlements much like Kulen Vakuf [in Bosnia], turn on each other? Bergholz has not only succeeded admirably in meeting his own research goals, but he has also done a major favour to the study of mass violence in other societies."
— Uğur Ümit Üngor, Canadian Slavonic Papers
"Bergholz has accomplished something remarkable in writing a book likely to influence debates in history as well as the social sciences. The book shows historians how close engagement with social science theory can deepen archival work. At the same time, Violence as a Generative Force raises the bar for empirical research for social scientists. Bergholz demonstrates how fine grained archival work not only allows scholars to create indirect and quantitative measures of conflict; it also enables us to trace the dynamics underlying the production of violence itself."
—Robert Braun, Nationalities Papers
"Rather than adhering to disciplinary fundamentalism, Violence as a Generative Force exhibits the benefits from crossing artificial disciplinary boundaries by combining insights from scholars that traditionally work in isolation from one another. The author strays from formulaic approaches that successively refute alternative explanations offered in existing literature in order to introduce a novel and supposed more accurate explanation. Instead, Bergholz builds on existing theories, using these insights as a guide to understanding the rich empirical evidence amassed through meticulous archival research and in-depth fieldwork. Taking this interdisciplinary approach, the author explains small pieces of a larger puzzle, a question, of what happened in Kulen Vakuf in 1941, why, and the consequences of these actions. The result is a deeply engaging study that goes beyond just-so explanations, adding nuance to the dominant historiographical narrative on the Balkan conflict and reminding us that the dynamics driving inter-communal violence are multi-facetted and go far beyond ethnicity and nationalism."
— Daniel Fedorowycz, Nationalities Papers
"The book provides extensive evidence that the progression of violence is not a linear process. In many situations, factors contributing to killing prevailed, while in other cases, factors contributing to rescue, such as the questioning of the legitimacy of authority or the pre-war friendships, motivated individuals to risk their lives in order to save their friends and neighbors who did not share their own ethno-religious identities. This finding is significant and should be incorporated in future studies of political violence more intentionally. Bergholz’s book represents a major contribution to the political violence literature. This impressively documented and beautifully written micro-history shows how ethnicity and violence may be linked not causally, but constitutively."
— Mila Dragojević, Nationalities Papers
"[Max] Bergholz has combined methodological aspects from nationalism, political violence, and memory studies in a unique way to create a book that will undoubtedly become a benchmark for successful microstudies of violence to come."
—Lovro Kralj, H-Soz-u-Kult
"This original book offers readers a new appreciation for how nationalist practices modify behaviour. The highly readable story Bergholz tells offers scholars and students an important set of insights into reconsidering assumptions about ethnicity, nationalism, and the often-assumed violent relations between "different" people in the Balkans and, indeed, the larger world."
—Isa Blumi, Choice Magazine
"Violence as a Generative Force is an impressive work—notable for both its depth of focus, and its breadth of analysis. [This] book is rich in empirical detail and theoretical insight. Max Bergholz’s analysis of the micro-dynamics of violence and nationalism is fascinating and useful to scholars who study political violence, genocide, and the Western Balkans region."
— Kjell Anderson, Genocide Studies and Prevention
Max Bergholz’s monograph presents a revolutionary challenge to prevailing conceptualizations of the role of nationalism and identity in the former Yugoslavia. In his micro-level analyses of violence, identity, power and nationhood in the summer of 1941 in the Kulen Vakuf community, Bergholz introduces novel approaches to understanding how violence creates, hardens and destroys identities in multi-ethnic communities.
— Taylor McConnell, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics
Bergholz’s book shakes away the complacency of too many historians of nationalism over the years. It is a major contribution to southeastern European history and to the fields of nationalism and violence studies.
—John Paul Newman, H-Genocide
Max Bergholz effectue un travail remarquable de microanalyse. Son ouvrage a le double avantage de fournir des informations rigoureuses sur le cas complexe et sous-étudié de Kulen Vakuf tout en enrichissant, avec ces questions plus larges, une historiographie trop souvent en quête de coupables génocidaires. La remise en question du nationalisme ethnique comme variable incontournable dans ce genre de con it est absolument rafraîchissante et nécessaire.
— Maxime Brunet, Études internationales
Max Bergholz’s beautifully written and closely argued Violence as a Generative Force extends the study of micro-level violence to World War II Yugoslavia. Focusing with tremendous detail on a small number of communities, [he] is able to provide a huge amount of information on motives for the onset of violence.
—Jeffrey Kopstein, Perspectives on Politics
Max Bergholz’s stunning monograph focuses on Bosnia in 1941. The interweaving of material from interviews and beliefs gives the book a nuanced anthropological texture. This book covers the events of 1941 with real dexterity and, as such, is a tremendous achievement. This monograph will rightfully take its place among the great books on ethnically inspired violence and deserves to be a standard text on genocide in modern history courses.
— Cathie Carmichael, Journal of Modern History