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Accounts of brutality fill the history of warfare. The behavior of any human being is, of course, a very complex phenomenon, whether in war or in peace. Historians in large part have described in detail the actions of military groups that have committed brutalities, but have not dealt with the factors that contributed to those actions. After examining the collective behavior of six military groups, representing different combat actions in different periods, some unexpected similarities became clear. While these groups were in very different situations and operated during different periods in history, there are similar factors that allowed the members of these groups to kill men, women and children in cold blood, and to commit acts of unspeakable brutality.



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