Skip to main content

Terrorism: A History

Terrorism: A History

Randall D. Law

ISBN: 978-0-745-65821-6

Apr 2013, Polity

384 pages


Product not available for purchase


Terrorism is one of the forces defining our age, but it has also been around since some of the earliest civilizations. This one-of-a-kind study of the history of terrorism — from ancient Assyria to the post-9/11 War on Terror — puts terrorism into broad historical, political, religious and social context. The book leads the reader through the shifting understandings and definitions of terrorism through the ages, and its continuous development of themes allows for a fuller understanding of the uses of and responses to terrorism.

The study of terrorism is constantly growing and ever changing. In Terrorism: A History, Randall Law gives students and general readers access to this rich field through the most up-to-date research combined with a much-needed long-range historical perspective. He extensively covers jihadism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Northern Ireland and the Ku Klux Klan plus lesser known movements in Uruguay, Algeria and even the pre-modern uses of terror in ancient Rome, medieval Europe and the French Revolution, among other topics.
Chronology of Important Dates

Chapter 1: Terror and Tyrannicide in the Ancient World
Chapter 2: Terror and Tyrannicide in the Middle Ages
Chapter 3: Terror and Tyrannicide in the Early Modern Era in Europe
Chapter 4: The Dawn of Revolutionary Terrorism
Chapter 5: Russian Revolutionary Terrorism
Chapter 6: The Era of the European Attentat
Chapter 7: Labor, Anarchy, and Terror in America
Chapter 8: White Supremacy and American Racial Terrorism
Chapter 9: The Dawn of Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism
Chapter 10: The Era of State Terror
Chapter 11: Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism from the 1930s to the Early 1960s
Chapter 12: Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism from the Late 1960s to the Present
Chapter 13: The Era of Leftist and International Terrorism
Chapter 14: The Rise of Jihadist Terrorism
Chapter 15: Alternative Terrorisms
Chapter 16: 9/11, the War on Terror, and Recent Trends in Terrorism

"The quintessential work on the subject, one that is provocative and educational, and will stimulate a necessary dialogue for future decision makers."
Naval War College Review

"An energetically written and highly readable extended essay on terrorism and a valuable reference book."

"What sets Terrorism apart is its textbook style and accessibility for students new to the topic."
European Review of History

"A valuable starting point for future research. The book is rich with data to support a qualitative search for new analyses of terrorism."
War in History

"As Professor Law observes, 'Terrorism is as old as human civilization...and as new as this morning's headlines.' His book provides a meticulous account of terrorist organization, methods, and motives, from the ancient world to the present. Counterterrorism experts, scholars, and concerned citizens will find this volume to be an invaluable resource."
James R. Locher III, President and CEO, Project on National Security Reform, and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict

"Randall Law's Terrorism: A History is a comprehensive and very readable survey of this important field. Highly recommended."
John A. Nagl, President of the Center for a New American Security and author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

"Comprehensive, reader friendly, and well documented, Professor Law's book is the book to read for anyone seeking to understand terrorism, its history, and the thinking and motivation of those who practice it."
Ed Rowe, Senior Advisor, Project on National Security Reform, Colonel, US Army (Ret), Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff (Ret)

"Publishers and author alike are to be congratulated on what is an error-free and well-presented book with a sprinkling of black and white images ... Although aimed at a primarily academic audience Terrorism: A History is not beyond the reach of the general reader. Nevertheless, written in a chronological and comprehensive fashion, Law's study provides the main reading for any political theory or international relations course."
Paul Ruddin, Roundup Editor at History News Network for History Today reader reviews

"Terrorism: A History is very much to be welcomed ... It seeks to explain the historical experience of terror, and makes a number of informed observations about the current situation, and raises questions about how terrorism might be combated ... a rich treasury of information, and a useful resource for any serious study of the problem."
Socialist Unity

"This book is timely, well-written, and of high quality. It fills a significant gap in the discipline - there are currently no histories of the subject which match this book's breadth in such a thorough, unbiased way."
Gregory Miller, Department of Political Science, University of Oklahoma

  • One-of-a-kind study of the history of terrorism ? from ancient Assyria to the post-9/11 War on Terror.
  • Illustrates how we have to consider terrorism in its broad historical, political, religious and social context to fully understand and analyse it.
  • Leads the reader through the shifting definitions of terrorism through the ages, and how what contemporaries have considered as ?terrorism? has constantly changed.
  • Combines the most up-to-date research with a much-needed long-range historical perspective on this topical phenomenon.