Based on her vast research, Stern lucidly explains how terrorist organizations are formed by opportunistic leaders who, using religion as both motivation and justification, recruit the disenfranchised. She depicts how moral fervor is transformed into sophisticated organizations that strive for money, power, or attention and suggests how terrorism might most effectively be countered.
©2003 Jessica Stern; (P)2003 HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc.
"A valuable and much-needed perspective to the problem of religious violence." (Publishers Weekly)
"Cogent analysis of methodologies and structures....Serious and provocative..." (New York Times Book Review)
"[Stern's] up-close portraits allow readers to glimpse the fierce alienation and the festering grudges that drive desperate men (and a few women) to embrace violent theologies." (Booklist)
Professor Stern's approach to the issue seemed very promising but both her reporting and conclusions turned out to be very disappointing. She had no balance between the types of "terror" she explored, giving little depth of treatment to Christian and Jewish examples. Her analysis was filled with lots of hand-ringing but little insight into solutions. One came away thinking her greastest suggestion was that the West walk away from globalization, at least to the extent it makes religious zealots uncomfortable. If the rise of religious terror is the by-product of McDonalds franchises, she ought to do better for all the work and risk she endured to gather her impressions.
I generally have praise for this book. It is well written, rich in both academic and empirical research and obviously, relevant to current events. Yet I wish the author would have explored in greater depth both Christian (barely covered in the beginning of the book) and Jewish religious militants. Also, the author herself reads the work in a monotonous, robotic voice void of inflection of emotion. Overall though, a well formed work of religious militancy, especially a fine moral and pragmatic last chapter offering solutions to terrorism.
Remarkable original research. I Salute Ms. Stern to have accomplished such a journey with courage and having dangers in pursuit of finding the truth like no one else has
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