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Reviews

"A lively, insightful, and evidence-based analysis of the most disruptive phenomenon in world affairs today. Adam Lankford challenges the conventional wisdom about suicide terrorism in a way that respects the facts, resolves the paradox (with profound implications for many other issues), and not least, de-romanticizes this loathsome practice." 

Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

"Maybe killers and terrorists really are crazy."

—The New York Times

"A fierce attack on the view that suicide terrorists are true martyrs to a cause, worthy of respect or honor because of their commitment."

Kirkus Reviews  

"Lankford draws clear distinctions between true heroism and its pretenders...[and] builds an impressive case for his view of suicide terrorism...If the courage assumed of suicide terrorism is its most powerful weapon, we can disarm this threat by denying its practitioners the myth of martyrdom." 

Scientific American Mind

 



"Are suicide bombers psychologically normal? Many psychologists, including experts 'diagnosing' the hijackers responsible for the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, view them as just that, albeit exercised by a powerful sense of justice. Adam Lankford begs to differ. Self-destructive killers, he says, are already primed for suicide — so depressed, addicted or brutalized that it is relatively easy to tip them over the edge. A criminal-justice specialist, Lankford presents compelling, well-synthesized evidence for his case."

—Nature

"The book is fascinating for its detailed examinations of a range of suicidal attacks and its syntheses of the motives of a disparate group of killers. Lankford challenges the thinking that has dominated public discussion since 9/11 in a highly readable way...The Myth of Martyrdom is a valuable contribution to America’s quest to stop mass killings."

—Financial Times

"the psychological connections he makes between a terrorist the likes of [Mohamed] Atta and alienated high school boys like the Columbine shooters – and his explanations as to why these connections matter – are clear and compelling."

—Christian Science Monitor

"Lankford compares suicide terrorists to the mass shooters who have wreaked such havoc in America, most recently at Newtown, Connecticut, and finds they have much in common...this book makes an important contribution."

—Mail on Sunday

"The Myth of Martyrdom makes a convincing case for reexamining our assumptions about suicide terrorism." 

American Association of Suicidology

"Lankford's analysis helps to resolve a number of puzzles in the terrorism literature...Lankford may well be correct that suicide terrorists care less about ending their stated grievances than their own miserable existences." 

Middle East Quarterly

"outstanding, brave, much needed research...Thanks to Lankford, we can see what and whom we are dealing with."

—Family Security Matters

"Buy the book, read it, tell others to buy it as well...The Myth of Martyrdom has entered the canon of studies in suicide terrorism at the top of the list."

—Citizen Times (Germany)

"Boldly challenging conventional ideas about the motivating factors behind suicide attacks...Lankford makes a convincing case that is well supported by studies and anecdotal evidence."

—The National (United Arab Emirates)

"At last an insightful book about martyrdom and suicide bombers. Too many so-called experts have dominated the stage without ever examining the life of a suicide bomber. Lankford, in a thorough and in-depth study, has identified the trauma, chronic depression and suicidal behavior that characterize their lives. This is a fascinating book with profound implications." 

David Lester, president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology and past president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention

“In The Myth of Martyrdom, Adam Lankford demonstrates that suicide-murderers who call themselves martyrs are actually suicidal. Like many important ideas, this one seems utterly obvious once someone presents the overwhelming evidence and makes the compelling argument. As Lankford shows, terrorists are motivated by a lot more than the ideologies they espouse--including their emotions. In short, terrorists are people. A critically important contribution to the literature and, one hopes, to our counter-terrorism.” 

Jessica Stern, former Director of Russian Affairs, National Security Council, and author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill

"A coherent, must read for all who would claim to be experts in terrorismor just curious. Dr. Lankford’s analytic rigor and willingness to examine assumptions make this a textbook example of how to do research and analysis. His conclusions? Suicidal martyrs are not heroes to be admired, but sick people to be pitied. Those who direct them are nothing more than evil. As Keynes once wrote: When someone persuades me I am wrong, I change my mind. What will you do?" 

Jim Simon, former Asst. Director of Central Intelligence for Administration, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, and Chair, Homeland Security Intelligence Council

"A provocative and eye-opening look at the psychological forces that drive suicide terrorists to seek their own destruction."

Peter Langman, author of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters

"Revealing long overlooked truths about suicide terrorists, Adam Lankford offers a compelling and provocative account, profoundly challenging conventional wisdom. Anyone who wants to fully understand the threat we face must read this powerful book." 

Ken Ballen, former federal prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice, and author of Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals

"More than a decade after the 9/11 attack, scholars and commentators are still offering alternative explanations as to why the plotters were willing to commit suicide. Were they heroic martyrs so dedicated to cause of Islamic Jihad that they were willing to die? Or were they so mentally unbalanced that they wanted to die because their lives had become too depressing, too much filled with anxiety and failure? Adam Lankford explores these hypotheses, not only as they apply to the 9/11 plotters, but also to school shooters, airplane hijackers, lone wolf bombers and the like. In a must-read book for those interested in these issues, he makes the case for the second hypothesis. He provides a benchmark that others will have to consider as they seek to reach their own conclusions." 

Donald Daniel, security studies professor, Georgetown University, and former Special Adviser to the Chairman, National Intelligence Council