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The myth of martyrdom : what really drives suicide bombers, rampage shooters, and other self-destructive killers /

Adam Lankford looks at the motivation of suicide bombers and other rampage killers.

Main Author: Lankford, Adam, 1979-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
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Review by Choice Review

Lankford (criminal justice, Univ. of Alabama) has written a provocative and timely book. Refuting much of the existing scholarly and popular assessment about suicide terrorists, the author contends that suicide bombers and rampage killers are not heroic or brave but in fact similar to others who contemplate suicide and suffer from psychological distress and feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and frustration. He presents his argument in eight chapters, beginning with an introduction that orients readers to the importance of the topic. In subsequent chapters, he summarizes previous explanations of suicide terrorism, presents evidence of 130 cases of suicide bombers and their suicidal traits, and provides a "psychological autopsy" of the leader of the 9/11 attacks. As a means of comparison, in chapter 5, Lankford presents characteristics of "actual" heroes. In chapters 6 and 7, he extends his thesis to include other types of killers and introduces a typology of suicide terrorists. In the last chapter, he summarizes potential preventive measures to thwart suicide attacks. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty/professionals. A. N. Douglas Mount Holyoke College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A fierce attack on the view that suicide terrorists are true martyrs to a cause, worthy of respect or honor because of their commitment. Lankford (Criminal Justice/Univ. of Alabama) argues that most suicide terrorists suffer from depression, grief, shame and rage, and they are seeking a way out of an existence they find unbearable. Religion and politics may affect the form of suicide and provide the target for rage, but they are not the underlying causes. The author cites studies and psychological assessments of suicide terrorists to support his position. He tabulates the similarities between rampage shooters, school shooters and suicide terrorists, notes their differences from workplace shooters, and examines different types of suicides--e.g., coerced (Kamikaze pilots), escapist (high-ranking Nazis) and indirect (players of Russian roulette). Lankford takes close looks at Mohamed Atta, leader of the 9/11 attack; Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter; the Columbine killers; and the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik. The author believes that to call suicide terrorists martyrs is to fall victim to terrorist propaganda that glorifies their acts. Instead, Lankford counsels, we must stigmatize their acts, expose them as psychologically damaged individuals and use the accumulated knowledge of risk factors and warning signs to identify potential perpetrators before they strike. Three appendices provide lists of attackers along with their known risk factors for suicide, names and dates of attacks between 1990 and 2010 in the United States, and countermeasures for dealing with different types of suicide terrorists. Lankford presents some persuasive evidence, but the scorn he displays for those with differing views significantly detracts from his message.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.