We are inclined to see terrorist attacks as an aberration, a violent incursion into our lives that bears no intrinsic relation to the fundamental features of modern societies. But does this view misconstrue the relationship between terror and modernity? In this book, philosopher Donatella Di Cesare takes a historical approach and argues that terror is not a new phenomenon, but rather one that has always been a key part of modernity. At its most basic level, terrorism is about the struggle for power and sovereignty. The growing concentration of power in the hands of the state, which is a constitutive feature of modern societies, sows the seeds of terrorism, which is deployed as a weapon by those who are exposed to the violence of the state and feel that they have no other recourse. As Di Cesare illustrates her argument with examples ranging from the Red Brigades and 9/11 to jihadism and ISIS, her sophisticated analysis will appeal to anyone who wishes to understand contemporary terrorism more deeply, as well as to students and scholars of philosophy and political theory.
Donatella Di Cesare has written a deeply learned, passionate, and revelatory analysis of what is, in effect, a new form of human conflict. War is no longer territorial but global, fueled by a lack of concern for death. Its face is terrorism but, as she shows, its origins are latent in the political heritage of the West. This is a book that will change the way you think about our world. Tracy B. Strong, University of Southampton Donatella Di Cesare presents here a remarkable global cultural view of terrorism, which should appeal to many readers beyond the usual confines of terrorism studies, not least for its pungent account of the 'thanatopolitics' of jihadism. Charles Townshend, Keele University