Monday, April 03, 2006

Booknote: Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror

Title: Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror
Author: Mia Bloom
Publication Information: New York: Columbia University Press, 2005
ISBN: 0231133200
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Current Affairs, Political Science
280 pages.

I found this book interesting and engaging. It provides a great explanation as to why suicide bombing is an alluring option. However, it does more than just give an explanation. The book looks at the root causes of this phenomena and strives to make it all accessible to the general reader. The book has chapters looking at specific groups including the Palestinians and the Tamil Tigers. It also has chapters of analysis. For example, the chapter on women and suicide bombing is very good in describing what it is that drives women to suicide bombing. One thing to understand is that suicide bombing is usually a weapon of last resort, something that is used when other avenues of combat have been exhausted or just not as effective. Also, suicide bombing is very dependent on community support. If a community sees it as an acceptable method to counter humiliation and oppression, then suicide bombers will thrive no matter what counter terror measures are in place. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict illustrates this idea very well, and Bloom does a good job of describing how this works. In addition, Bloom provides examples of places where suicide bombers lose popular support and the tactic has to be abandoned. While striking terror is part of a suicide bomber's goal, there is a larger message, and it is this message that needs to be understood. The roots that lead to suicide bombing need to be understood as well, and this book provides a good, well-written start to achieve that.

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