The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia
In the first decade of the 20th century, the world witnessed an unprecedented escalation of political terrorism in imperial Russia. Some 23,000 terrorist acts yielded approximately 17,000 victims. Russian radicals in the early 1900s initiated the tradition of using “human bombs” for terrorist purposes, preceding by almost a century radical Islamists’ efforts to do the same.
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This fascinating study shows how terrorism as developed and practiced in Romanov Russia has, over the past century, manifested itself as the template for modern and postmodern terrorism as a universal sociocultural, psychological, and existential experience, irrespective of particular political causes, ethnic distinctions, and ideological boundaries.
Arguing that Russia is the birthplace of modern terrorism, Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia uses the nation as a case study of psycho-historical patterns of worldwide terrorist activity during the past century. Key features of early-20th century Russian political extremism serve as models for terrorist experiences in other periods and regions as author Anna Geifman builds a typology of a universal phenomenon.
The book shows how, in Russia and elsewhere, terrorists’ objectives have degenerated from punishment of individual adversaries and attempts to intimidate political elites to indiscriminate acts of political violence. It shifts attention from ideology to practices that had been previously hidden, ignored, or rationalized, demonstrating that what terrorists say about their motives may not be what actually drives them to brutality. By looking closely at Russian precedents for the general experience of modern political violence, the book helps illuminate many obscure aspects of terrorism today.
- Offers data based on extensive archival and primary research
- Includes citations from numerous original sources found in Russian, American, European, and Israeli depositories
- Provides a comprehensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources
- Is the first book to seek to establish a typology of terrorist activity over the past 100 years based on a one-country model, analyzed as a representative case study
- Shows that terrorists’ motives are not always consistent with their political ideologies and that the one thing all modern terrorists seem to have in common is a love of death
- Features a unique intercultural and interdisciplinary psycho-historical approach to the understanding of modern terrorism
- Examines precedents comparatively, allowing for the first scholarly speculation about patterns of terrorists’ behavior as state leaders
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"...a striking counterweight to today's dominant scholarly understanding of terrorism as a rational act. Her argument is exhaustively documented, and Geifman writes with clarity and verve..."
"This is a wide-ranging insight into terrorism, the bane of modern life. It analyzes the psychology of terrorists in Russia, where this scourge began, as well as Palestine, Chechnia and elsewhere to bring out the common mind-sets of people perpetrating this kind of criminal activity. As such it is of great value to anyone concerned with the massive and often indiscriminate assaults on human life that have become a feature of modern life."
"This highly original, and thoroughly researched, comparative study of modern political terror illuminates the apocalyptic beliefs of its perpetrators and brings together the psychological, cultural and political dimensions of the phenomenon.
Focusing on the dislocations of modernity the author provides exceptional insight into the mentality and methodology of 19th century Russians terrorists, present day Islamic suicide bombers and political extremists in general.
A unique case study of the connections between the personal and political realm, and the transformation of consuming hatred into potent political energy and action."
"Anna Geifman’s most recent book is a must read for anybody seeking to decipher the psyche of today’s international terrorists. Approaching the issue from a psychohistorical perspective, Professor Geifman traces the historical ascension of terrorism from 20th Century Russia to modern day Israel, drawing fascinating parallels along the way. Through an in-depth analysis, Professor Geifman shows that the Russian extremists of days past are to a large extent the forefathers of today’s Islamic fanatics."
“A vital contribution to the historical, political, philosophical, and psychological understanding of terrorism. Anna Geifman has written an indispensable sequel to the Devils, conceptualizing, updating, and completing Dostoyevsky’s prophecy on contemporary nihilism”.