Turning to Political Violence

Turning to Political Violence
The Emergence of Terrorism

Marc Sageman

544 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Cloth Jun 2017 | ISBN 9780812248777 | $49.95s | Add to cart || Outside USA | £43.00
Ebook Jun 2017 | ISBN 9780812293821 | $49.95s | £32.50 | Add to cart || About
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Praise for Understanding Terror Networks:

"The most sophisticated analysis of global jihadis yet published. . . . His conclusions have demolished much of the conventional wisdom about who joins jihadi groups."—William Dalrymple, New York Review of Books

"The best source of information about modern Islamic terrorists."—Freeman Dyson, New York Review of Books

Praise for Leaderless Jihad:

"Sageman's incisive observations based on carefully examined evidence, astute insights, and scholarship make Leaderless Jihad the gold standard in Al Qaeda studies."—Washington Times

"Leaderless Jihad discredits conventional wisdom about terrorists by eschewing anecdotes and conjecture in favor of hard data and statistics."—Time

"It might be comforting to think that angry young Islamists are crazed psychopaths or sex-starved adolescents who have been brainwashed in malign madrassas. But Mr. Sageman . . . explodes each of these myths, and others besides, in an unsettling account of how Al Qaeda has evolved from the organisation headed by Osama bin Laden into an amorphous movement—a 'leaderless jihad.'"—The Economist

As Islamist terrorism has ravaged the contemporary Middle East and led to sporadic attacks in Europe and the United States, countless journalists, pundits, and politicians have turned their attention to the question of what motivates those who commit violence in the name of political beliefs. Terrorism is not solely the preserve of Islam, however, nor is it a new phenomenon. It emerges from social processes and conditions common to societies throughout modern history, and the story of its origins spans centuries, encompassing numerous radical and revolutionary movements.

Marc Sageman is a forensic psychiatrist and government counterterrorism consultant whose bestselling books Understanding Terror Networks and Leaderless Jihad provide a detailed, damning corrective to commonplace yet simplistic notions of Islamist terrorism. In his comprehensive new book Turning to Political Violence, he examines the history and theory of political violence. Sageman excavates primary sources surrounding key instances of modern political violence, looking for patterns across a range of case studies spanning the French Revolution, through late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century revolutionaries and anarchists in Russia and the United States, to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the start of World War I. In contrast to one-dimensional portraits of terrorist "monsters" offered by governments and media throughout history, these accounts offer complex and intricate portraits of individuals engaged in struggles with identity, injustice, and revenge who may be empowered by a sense of love and self-sacrifice.

Arguing against easy assumptions that attribute terrorism to extremist ideology, and counter to mainstream academic explanations such as rational actor theory, Sageman develops a theoretical model based on the concept of social identity. His analysis keys on the complex dynamic between the state and disaffected citizens that leads some to disillusionment and moral outrage, and a few to mass murder. Sageman's account offers a paradigm-shifting perspective on terrorism that yields stark new implications for the ways liberal democracies can and should confront political violence.

Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist, is a government counterterrorism consultant. He is author of Misunderstanding Terrorism, Leaderless Jihad, and Understanding Terror Networks, all of which are available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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