In the first decade of the 20th century, the world witnessed an unprecedented escalation of political terrorism in imperial Russia. Some 23,000 terrorist acts yielded approximately 17,000 victims. Russian radicals in the early 1900s initiated the tradition of using “human bombs” for terrorist purposes, preceding by almost a century radical Islamists’ efforts to do the same.
This fascinating study shows how terrorism as developed and practiced in Romanov Russia has, over the past century, manifested itself as the template for modern and postmodern terrorism as a universal sociocultural, psychological, and existential experience, irrespective of particular political causes, ethnic distinctions, and ideological boundaries.
Arguing that Russia is the birthplace of modern terrorism, Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia uses the nation as a case study of psycho-historical patterns of worldwide terrorist activity during the past century. Key features of early-20th century Russian political extremism serve as models for terrorist experiences in other periods and regions as author Anna Geifman builds a typology of a universal phenomenon.
The book shows how, in Russia and elsewhere, terrorists’ objectives have degenerated from punishment of individual adversaries and attempts to intimidate political elites to indiscriminate acts of political violence. It shifts attention from ideology to practices that had been previously hidden, ignored, or rationalized, demonstrating that what terrorists say about their motives may not be what actually drives them to brutality. By looking closely at Russian precedents for the general experience of modern political violence, the book helps illuminate many obscure aspects of terrorism today.
• Offers data based on extensive archival and primary research
• Includes citations from numerous original sources found in Russian, American, European, and Israeli depositories
• Provides a comprehensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources
• Is the first book to seek to establish a typology of terrorist activity over the past 100 years based on a one-country model, analyzed as a representative case study
• Shows that terrorists’ motives are not always consistent with their political ideologies and that the one thing all modern terrorists seem to have in common is a love of death
• Features a unique intercultural and interdisciplinary psycho-historical approach to the understanding of modern terrorism
• Examines precedents comparatively, allowing for the first scholarly speculation about patterns of terrorists’ behavior as state leaders