The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers

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Macmillan, Jan 22, 2013 - History - 257 pages
12 Reviews

A startling look at the deepest, darkest secrets that terrorists pray you’ll never know

 

For decades, experts from the most powerful governments and prestigious universities around the world have told us that suicide bombers are psychologically normal men and women driven by a single-minded purpose: self-sacrifice. As it turns out, this claim originated with the terrorist leaders themselves, who insisted that they would never recruit mentally unstable people to carry out suicide attacks. As these strikes have become both increasingly common and increasingly deadly, no one has challenged this conventional wisdom. These are fearless ideological warriors, we're told, who have the same resolve and commitment to their beliefs as our own Navy SEALs, because they're willing to die for the sake of their cause.

 

In The Myth of Martyrdom, Adam Lankford argues that these so-called experts have it all wrong. The truth is that most suicide terrorists are like any other suicidal person—longing to escape from unbearable pain, be it depression, anxiety, marital strife, or professional failure. Their “martyrdom” is essentially a cover for an underlying death wish. Drawing on an array of primary sources, including suicide notes, love letters, diary entries, and martyrdom videos, Lankford reveals the important parallels that exist between suicide bombers, airplane hijackers, cult members, and rampage shooters. The result is an astonishing account of rage and shame that will transform the way we think of terrorism forever.

 

We can’t hope to stop these deadly attacks, Lankford argues, until we understand what’s really behind them. This timely and provocative book flips a decades-old argument on its head—and has huge implications for our future.

 

  

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Review: The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers

User Review  - Liv - Goodreads

The author offers a lot of insight into various terrorists and their biographies, arguing that they are suicidal. His book is very interesting and offers a lot of insight. His arguments are easy to ... Read full review

Review: The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers

User Review  - Olivia - Goodreads

The author offers a lot of insight into various terrorists and their biographies, arguing that they are suicidal. His book is very interesting and offers a lot of insight. His arguments are easy to ... Read full review

Contents

1 The Myth of Martyrdom
1
2 Lies Damn Lies and Previous Research on Suicide Terrorism
21
3 Why Suicide Terrorists Are Suicidal
41
4 The Truth About 911
65
5 What Real Heroes Are Made Of
89
The Natural Comparison
107
7 The Four Types of Suicide Terrorists
127
8 Mission Impossible? How to Stop Suicide Terrorism
151
Appendix A
177
Appendix B
191
Appendix C
195
Notes
199
Bibliography
233
Index
253
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Adam Lankford is a Criminal Justice professor at The University of Alabama. His research has been featured by media outlets such as Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, CNN, NPR, The Atlantic, and The Boston Globe. From 2003 to 2008, Lankford helped coordinate anti-terrorism efforts in conjunction with the US State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. Lankford has written for The Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, and many peer-reviewed journals, and is the author of Human Killing Machines. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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