In this intellectually and politically potent new book, Martin Shaw proposes a way through the confusion surrounding the idea of genocide. He considers the origins and development of the concept and its relationships to other forms of political violence. Offering a radical critique of the existing literature on genocide, Shaw argues that what distinguishes genocide from more legitimate warfare is that the enemies targeted are groups and individuals of a civilian character. He vividly illustrates his argument from a wide range of historical episodes, and shows how the question What is genocide? matters politically whenever populations are threatened by violence. This compelling book will undoubtedly open up vigorous debate, appealing to students and scholars across the social sciences and in law. Shaws arguments will be of lasting importance.