This book offers a wide-ranging discussion of the roots and consequences of ethnic strive in Burundi. It provides the reader with an appropriate background for an understanding of Burundi's 1993 transition to multiparty democracy and the coup and violence that followed. Focusing on the 1972 and 1988 bloodbaths, the author shows how these cataclysmic events shaped the images the Hutu and Tutsi have of each other and created the basis for political myths on both sides of a socially constructed fault line. In so doing, Lemarchand brings out a dimension of analysis that has seldom been taken into account in discussions of "ethnic cleansing" or "ethnocide." The main emphasis is on how ethnicity can be exploited to transform and mobilize the system of political discourse and ultimately invest it with the horrors and irrationality of genocidal violence.