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Terrorists, Victims and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and its Consequences (Wiley Series in Psychology of Crime, Policing and Law) Paperback – 24 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (24 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471494623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471494621
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 1.9 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


highly recommended for its thoughtfulness and depth of scholarship (Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 37, No 6)

all the contributions are perceptive would appeal to anyone interested in the processes underlying terrorism (Forensic Update, Jan 2004)

From the Author

At a time when there is an increasing sense of paranoia regarding terrorism, there is a powerful need for balanced, expert and accessible accounts of the psychology of terrorists and terrorism. This book is intended to help address this need. However, this volume should not be seen as a knee-jerk reaction to the tragic events of September 11. Yonah Alexander recently commented that more than 150 books on terrorism had been published in the first 12 months after the attacks on New York and Washington, roughly three new books each week. He questioned – rightly – whether the quality of this flood of print would stand any test of time. This volume is hopefully somewhat better prepared for such probation.

Though published well after the September 11 attacks, work on this collection of papers first began back in 1998, when I met the Series Editor for coffee at the campus of the University of Leicester. I had already heard that Wiley had (for some time) wanted to publish a book on psychology and terrorism. They were struggling however to find someone to take the project on. I agreed to edit the book, but little appreciated then just how long it would take to bring the finished volume to fruition. From the outset, the intention was to gather together contributions from psychologists and psychiatrists with the right backgrounds. People who had direct experience of researching terrorism; who had met actual terrorists; who had worked with the victims of terrorist violence; and who had laboured to assist those tasked with the serious responsibility of combating and responding to terrorism. Needless to say, the list of potential contributors was a short one and it took much time to gather the various authors together.

The end product though has hopefully been worth the long wait. Divided into three parts, the book aims to provide a holistic account of terrorism and its impact. The first general section focuses on terrorists as individuals and as groups. The aim of the contributions here is to provide balanced and objective insight into the psychology of terrorists; what their motivations are, what keeps them involved in terrorist groups, and what eventually forces most to end their active involvement in terrorism. This section also tackles the special issues of terrorist hostage-taking, suicidal terrorism and the growing concern over cyber-terrorism.

The second section of the book explores the question of the impact of terrorism. Some of the very best work psychology has carried out on the subject of terrorism has been focused on the issues surrounding victims and these chapters examine how terrorism affects both its direct and indirect casualties. It also examines the differences between isolated incidents and long-running terrorist campaigns and the special cases of groups such as children and the increasingly sensitive role played by the media.

The third and final section of the book focuses on the thorny questions of how best to respond to, and manage, terrorism. It is hoped that these chapters can provide some insight for those concerned with short-term tactical problems (e.g. whether to retaliate or not), as well as for those who are looking at the more long-term strategic questions of bringing an entire terrorist campaign to an end.

The focus of this book is ultimately to present a clear and succinct view of what psychological research has revealed about terrorists and terrorism. The results are often disturbing, sometimes surprising and frequently disheartening. Perhaps most worrying of all, is the extent to which this current level and range of knowledge has repeatedly been ignored and overlooked by those tasked with the responsibility of controlling terrorism. This book aims to provide a clear, intelligent and well-informed account of what psychology has learned in the past thirty years about issues relating to terrorism. It also aims to demonstrate just how one branch of social science can provide a powerful tool for insight and guidance on one of the most challenging problems facing the modern world.

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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
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5.0 out of 5 starsGood science about a hard topic
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