Fast-moving, self- propelled 'violent images' have radically changed the nature of insurgency in the modern world. The global media has revolutionised the way ideas, messages and images are disseminated, and the speed with which they travel. First satellite TV, then laptops and the Internet, and now mobile phones and social media have transformed the way we communicate, collapsing time and distance. Rebels who hope to overthrow states or to build transnational, ideological communities, have adopted these dynamic technologies. But they have also learned the key lesson: in a visual world, the power of the image has supplanted that of the written word. Neville Bolt investigates how today's revolutionaries have rejuvenated the nineteenth century 'propaganda of the deed' so that terrorism no longer simply goads states into overreacting, thereby losing legitimacy. The deed has become a tool to highlight the underlying grievances of communities. Pictures of 9/11, 7/1 and Abu Ghraib are today's weapon of choice. The Violent Image explores what happens in the 'moment of shock'; how emotive pictures attach to messages, causing populations to rise up in anger. From the Fenians to the Taliban to the Arab Spring we learn how insurgents have adapted the way they use violence to tell stories and effect social change. In the 'war of ideas', the new revolutionaries aim to set in motion surges of support that spread virally through global networks at such speed that states can no longer defend their own strategic narratives. Have we now reached the point where insurgents and populations are driving images and ideas so fast, that a new era of revolutionary politics is already upon us?
'The Violent Image is an important book. It gives a powerful, thoughtful and insightful account into one of the defining features of our time; how the media and the image have become the central battleground for all insurgent campaigns.' * Gavin Hewitt, BBC * 'Neville Bolt provides not only a compelling historical overview of terrorist and insurgent propaganda over the past century, but also a convincing analysis of present-day revolutions and the way that insurgents and terrorists interact with diasporas in a globalized digital world. The Violent Image is a must-read for all serious students of insurgency and revolution.' * David Kilcullen, author of The Accidental Guerilla and Counterinsurgency * 'The Violent Image is an insightful and eminently readable examination of how terrorists and insurgents exploit new channels of communication to compete in the battle of perceptions with states. Neville Bolt argues that terrorists use violent images and carefully designed narratives to force their message into the public domain. Indeed, their skilful use of both digital technologies and traditional media outlets not only attracts attention to their cause but also helps to recruit and mobilise their followers. This meticulously researched and compelling book will be indispensable to scholars and practitioners who are interested in how terrorists use the Internet and social media.' * Marc Genest Professor of Public Diplomacy and Co-Director of the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups at the U.S. Naval War College * 'Elegantly written and a pleasure to read, it invites the reader on a fairly wild ride, from the Fenians to the Taliban, from print media to social media and back. Bolt's work makes a big argument in a small package, densely researched yet readable. Most important, he says something new in a field that desperately needs it.' * David J. Betz, Senior Lecturer, Department of War Studies, King's College London * 'This is a highly original work which places communication and imagery at the heart of modern conflicts. I know of no other similar work which traces the integration of imagery and its production within the strategic framework of insurgency; no other book has mapped so completely the way images contribute to narratives, their essentiality to the insurgent's cause and how well insurgents have come to understand and exploit this'. * Professor Nicholas O'Shaughnessy, Communications, Queen Mary London * 'A lucid, deep, and highly informative analysis of the evolution of political violence. Highly recommended.' * Choice *