June’s Books of the Month
If last month’s selection theme was books written by U of C faculty, this month’s theme is threefold: 1) Books about suicide terrorism; 2) Books with the word “Dying” in the title; 3) Books that thank me in the acknowledgements. The international relations book for this month is my colleague Robert Pape’s Dying to Win ...
If last month's selection theme was books written by U of C faculty, this month's theme is threefold:
If last month’s selection theme was books written by U of C faculty, this month’s theme is threefold:
1) Books about suicide terrorism; 2) Books with the word “Dying” in the title; 3) Books that thank me in the acknowledgements.
The international relations book for this month is my colleague Robert Pape’s Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Pape has collected data on all events of suicide terrorism over the past three decades and distills from that data several interesting hypotheses and policy recommendations. [Why not go into more depth?–ed. Because I’ve blogged about Pape’s work on this subject before — click here, here, and here for my thoughts about Pape’s argument, methodology, and policy pronouncements.] The general interest book for the month is… on the same topic — it’s Mia Bloom’s Dying To Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror. In contrast to Pape, Bloom conducted field research in conflict zones where suicide terrorism took place — including Israel and Sri Lanka. The assessment from Publisher’s Weekly:
An “explanation of the unexplainable,” this lucid and comprehensive study of the historical roots and contemporary motivations of suicide terror is a major study. Bloom’s historical range is formidable; the first eight chapters are a marvel of historical compression, moving from the Zealots of first-century Judea to the Japanese kamikaze of WWII within a few bleak but instructive pages. Bloom stresses that suicide bombings can only thrive with the implied consent of an aggrieved population, which can be withdrawn: the Omagh bombing of 1998, for example, was a disaster for the IRA. Over and over again?from Chechnya to the West Bank?history teaches that harsh counterterror tactics become part of the cycle, or, as University of Cincinnati political scientist Bloom terms it, part of the contagion of violence. She sees hopeful signs in Turkey’s recent measured and partially successful response to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The book also includes a fascinating chapter on suicide terror as practiced by women, especially in Chechnya and Sri Lanka, and how it is viewed, ironically, as a source of female empowerment.
Combined, Bloom and Pape offer a lovely refutation to claims that the academic study of international relations does not care about policy relevant research. Go check them out.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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