Making Sense of Suicide Missions

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"Suicide attacks have become the defining act of political violence of our age. This book is the first to shed real light on these extraordinary acts, and provide answers to the questions we all ask: Are these actions of aggressive religious zealots and unbridled, irrational radicals, or is there a logic driving those behind them? Are their motivations religious or has Islam provided a language to express essentially political causes? How can the perpetrators remain so lucidly effective in the face of certain death? And do these disparate attacks have something like a common cause?" For nearly three years, this team of internationally distinguished scholars has pursued an unprejudiced inquiry, investigating organizers and perpetrators alike of this extraordinary phenomenon. Close comparisons between a whole range of cases raise challenging further questions: If suicide missions are so effective, why are they not more common? If killing is what matters, why not stick to 'ordinary' violent means? Or, if dying is what matters, why kill in the process?
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The contributions are all of a high quality, asking searching questions of the available evidence."—Foreign Affairs

"Gambetta brings together a remarkable group of academics from different disciplines and countries who bring a formidable array of research and analysis to their attempt to make sense of suicide missions. This is an important book, and the best treatment of the subject I've read."—Louise Richardson, Financial Times

"Making Sense of Suicide Missions is an enlightening collection of essays, so badly needed in the prevalent mood of misconceptions and half-baked analysis."—The Guardian

"... in a fascinating contribution to the new essay collection Making Sense of Suicide Missions, the Yale political scientist Stathis Kalyvas and a Spanish colleague, Ignacio Sanchez Cuenca, point out that FARC, the Columbian rebel group, once hatched a plan to fly a plane into that country's presidential palace but could find no willing pilot, even after dangling an offer of $2 million for the pilot's family."—Boston Globe

"This thoughtful and engrossing book underlines the pointlessness of a rage that is truly self-destructive, even if we may have to continue looking warily on the Tube for a while."—The Evening Standard

"A stunning essay on al-Qaeda and 11 September 2001 ...challenging and timely book."—New Statesman

"The book effectively balances qualitative, quantitative, and analytic approaches. The case studies are deeply researched, riveting, and compelling. And each is shaped to engage the basic question: Why? To the degree that is possible, the attempts to answer this question are based on rigorous forms of inference and reasoning. The book is therefore a joy to teach from. It should claim the attention of both academics and policy makers."—Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199276998
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/26/2005
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Kamikaze 1943-45, Peter Hill
2. Tamil Tigers 1987-2002, Stephen Hopgood
3. Palestinians 1981-2003, Luca Ricolfi
4. Al Quaeda, September 11, 2001, Stephen Holmes
5. Dying Without Killing: Self-Immolations 1962-2002, Michael Biggs
6. Killing Without Dying: The Absence of Suicide Missions, Stathis Kalyvas and Ignacio Sanchez Cuenca
7. Motivations and Beliefs in Suicide Missions, Jon Elster
8. Can We Make Sense of Suicide Missions?, Diego Gambetta

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