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The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to al-Qaeda

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In contrast to the widely held assumption that terrorists as crazed fanatics, Jerrold Post demonstrates they are psychologically "normal" and that "hatred has been bred in the bone". He reveals the powerful motivations that drive these ordinary people to such extraordinary evil by exploring the different types of terrorists, from national-separatists like the Irish Republi In contrast to the widely held assumption that terrorists as crazed fanatics, Jerrold Post demonstrates they are psychologically "normal" and that "hatred has been bred in the bone". He reveals the powerful motivations that drive these ordinary people to such extraordinary evil by exploring the different types of terrorists, from national-separatists like the Irish Republican Army to social revolutionary terrorists like the Shining Path, as well as religious extremists like al-Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo. In The Mind of the Terrorist, Post uses his expertise to explain how the terrorist mind works and how this information can help us to combat terrorism more effectively.


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In contrast to the widely held assumption that terrorists as crazed fanatics, Jerrold Post demonstrates they are psychologically "normal" and that "hatred has been bred in the bone". He reveals the powerful motivations that drive these ordinary people to such extraordinary evil by exploring the different types of terrorists, from national-separatists like the Irish Republi In contrast to the widely held assumption that terrorists as crazed fanatics, Jerrold Post demonstrates they are psychologically "normal" and that "hatred has been bred in the bone". He reveals the powerful motivations that drive these ordinary people to such extraordinary evil by exploring the different types of terrorists, from national-separatists like the Irish Republican Army to social revolutionary terrorists like the Shining Path, as well as religious extremists like al-Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo. In The Mind of the Terrorist, Post uses his expertise to explain how the terrorist mind works and how this information can help us to combat terrorism more effectively.

30 review for The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to al-Qaeda

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    FINALLY...I get through this book. I must say, content-wise, the book was great. From a readability standpoint, though, I had a very tough time with it. I consider myself an advanced reader, but the book felt intellectually forced. A word to the author, when writing about a subject that forces you to list name after name of foreign language origins, keep your writing style simpler. The names were difficult for me to follow and the sentence structure didn't help me internalize the actual point th FINALLY...I get through this book. I must say, content-wise, the book was great. From a readability standpoint, though, I had a very tough time with it. I consider myself an advanced reader, but the book felt intellectually forced. A word to the author, when writing about a subject that forces you to list name after name of foreign language origins, keep your writing style simpler. The names were difficult for me to follow and the sentence structure didn't help me internalize the actual point that was being made. That being said, as a textbook for a homeland security course, I would highlight recommend this one. Very informative. Very thorough. I read this one to inform my work and it did just that. In today's society, we are over-exposed to al Qaeda and under-exposed to the historical terrorist movements. I also enjoyed the book's presentation of the different types of terrorism: nationalist-separatist, social revolutionary, and religious extremist.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Pappas

    Post's book, other than some prefatory material and occasional references to Ariel Merari's work, is less psychological than the title advertises. After his initial essay about the difference between national-separatist terror and socialist left-wing terror, he focuses mainly on the history of the groups, their structure and internal politics, and general motivations. Interesting none-the-less, but this lacks the deeper psychological acuity promised by the title. Post's book, other than some prefatory material and occasional references to Ariel Merari's work, is less psychological than the title advertises. After his initial essay about the difference between national-separatist terror and socialist left-wing terror, he focuses mainly on the history of the groups, their structure and internal politics, and general motivations. Interesting none-the-less, but this lacks the deeper psychological acuity promised by the title.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Interesting but heavy read - 3* If you think you understand terrorism, you don't. I still don't and I found it hard to understand why anyone would do this. I did. I really did. There's SO many terrorist groups. It's terrifying and the interviews and the history of all these terrorist groups are so scary. I don't feel any better prepared for the 21st century but terrorism is not new and I'm still scared. I don't know why I picked this book up. I think I wanted to understand the mind of the terroris Interesting but heavy read - 3* If you think you understand terrorism, you don't. I still don't and I found it hard to understand why anyone would do this. I did. I really did. There's SO many terrorist groups. It's terrifying and the interviews and the history of all these terrorist groups are so scary. I don't feel any better prepared for the 21st century but terrorism is not new and I'm still scared. I don't know why I picked this book up. I think I wanted to understand the mind of the terrorist but I just feel further away from understanding and it's not this book's fault. Yeah. Just yeah.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    Assigned via a colleague for a seminar. I haven't finished it but am comfortable reviewing it so far. For a book that looks at recent history if terrorism, I would.expect the author to spend at least a little.tome seriously engaging with the complexity of the idea of "terrorism". Given that the author is engaging with multiple post-colonial and nationalist movements, I would have further expected even a cursory engagement with literature in that area too. This is so far a.loose collection of ran Assigned via a colleague for a seminar. I haven't finished it but am comfortable reviewing it so far. For a book that looks at recent history if terrorism, I would.expect the author to spend at least a little.tome seriously engaging with the complexity of the idea of "terrorism". Given that the author is engaging with multiple post-colonial and nationalist movements, I would have further expected even a cursory engagement with literature in that area too. This is so far a.loose collection of random case studies, sometimes including people the authir interviewed, sometimes not. There is very little historical contextualization for the radical movements he is examining.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Griswold

    Jerrod Post's "The Mind of the Terrorist" provided an illuminating look into the mind of the leaders of several terrorist organizations...several of which including Shining Path, The Red Brigades, and The Red Army Faction I was previously unaware of. Although no terrorist can be perfectly painted into a box, Post is able to create some common themes : Most terrorists had experienced some sort of severe shaping childhood loss, many of them have grown up in minority groups within states that are t Jerrod Post's "The Mind of the Terrorist" provided an illuminating look into the mind of the leaders of several terrorist organizations...several of which including Shining Path, The Red Brigades, and The Red Army Faction I was previously unaware of. Although no terrorist can be perfectly painted into a box, Post is able to create some common themes : Most terrorists had experienced some sort of severe shaping childhood loss, many of them have grown up in minority groups within states that are treated unjustly by the ruling majority group such as the LTTE and The IRA. This perceived injustice provides a fertile ground for recruitment among the native marginalized populations. Many groups have risen up 1. as a rejection of their parents generation, 2. As a social revolutionary organization to dethrone the Western Capitalist order of things, 3. To address generations of injustice or 4. Because God or some other religious doctrine has told them to kill x group for y reason. The typical terrorist leader also has a sizeable ego and may rely on charismatic factors or propaganda or sheer brute force to gain recruits to the cause. The second part of the book switches from the leaders of terrorist organizations to those who join terrorist organizations. Paying particular attention to Islamist terrorists, Post draws a picture of a world full of weak governments with little hope for employment or a future for their young populations. In this environment with unchecked avenues for the dissemination of Islamic radical propaganda, terrorists have a ready supply of young people who easily fall prey to these religious ideas of hatred for another because they don't have anything else to believe in. Post gives a stirring picture of both several terrorist leaders and the profile of the type of people they seek to recruit to their cause in an accessible 257 page format.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an amazingly thorough look at terrorism – its history and its causes. The author differentiates terrorism into subcategories: those that carry on their parents’ beliefs, those that go against their parents’ beliefs and those who commit these acts for religious purposes by looking at different examples of each. He then gives some great advice for how to successfully deal with modern terrorism that make sense. This book is filled with some great insights and advice that modern politicians This is an amazingly thorough look at terrorism – its history and its causes. The author differentiates terrorism into subcategories: those that carry on their parents’ beliefs, those that go against their parents’ beliefs and those who commit these acts for religious purposes by looking at different examples of each. He then gives some great advice for how to successfully deal with modern terrorism that make sense. This book is filled with some great insights and advice that modern politicians should take a look at before developing policies on these issues.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Cotterill

    For a book entitled "the psychology of terrorism" there is relatively little psychological evidence in this book. It is a great book if you are concerned with the history of terrorism. However, if you really do want a psychological insight into why people become terrorists, Anne Speckhard's book is a much better choice. For a book entitled "the psychology of terrorism" there is relatively little psychological evidence in this book. It is a great book if you are concerned with the history of terrorism. However, if you really do want a psychological insight into why people become terrorists, Anne Speckhard's book is a much better choice.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mnfruit

    just started!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elham Danay

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Kobayashi

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shaneice

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lavesh Motiani

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Johnson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Argue

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex Burns

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

  21. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Wimmer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Scrigna vigil

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katlyn Droke

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Pusatory

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dereck Lammers

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike Stinchcomb

  28. 5 out of 5

    connor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julio

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maria Y Moreno Florido

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