Why "Good Kids" Turn into Deadly Terrorists
Deconstructing the Accused Boston Marathon Bombers and Others Like Them
by Alice LoCicero
July 2014, 178pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3188-1
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3189-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

What factors can trigger seemingly normal youth to become terrorists?

Using psychological theory and the author's direct experience working with at-risk youth, this book answers the questions on the minds of anyone shocked and appalled by the events of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The shock of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings was soon followed by a revelation initially disturbing and mystifying: two apparently unremarkable brothers—one a teenager, the other a young adult; both well-liked immigrants and longtime U.S. residents—had allegedly triggered the bombs. Why were these two seemingly “normal” individuals driven to commit such acts of coldblooded violence? This book examines not only the lives, motivations, and key influences of these infamous brothers, but those of other young, unexpected terrorists worldwide, comparing factors that contributed to their decisions to become terrorists and identifying methods used to recruit them into that deadly fold.

The chapters teach readers warning signs that youths are being drawn in to terrorism and serve to spur meaningful conversations among citizens, politicians, and policymakers about what we can do to prevent such recruitment of youths and young adults, including other U.S. residents who might consider emulating the Tsarnaev brothers. The book also addresses larger, related questions, such as whether humans are naturally violent, who benefits when young individuals engage in terrorism, and why minors are recruited to become killers.


  • Identifies the various factors and influences that drove two young men who were described by many who knew them to be "nice, normal people" to commit premeditated acts of violence
  • Addresses recent events in other countries with similarly aged and seemingly unthreatening young adults and teens as perpetrators of attacks
  • Provides an appendix containing sources for further research, including books, news articles, links to journal articles, and websites of research organizations
  • Includes a foreword by Michael Lamport Commons, PhD, Harvard Medical School
Alice LoCicero, PhD, is a board certified clinical psychologist and a core faculty member at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center. She has studied youth immersed in violence, interviewed youth who have experienced trauma from five continents, and has been a faculty member at various universities in the Boston area, including Tufts University and Harvard Medical School. She is the author of Praeger's Creating Young Martyrs: Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea. LoCicero holds a doctorate in psychology from Catholic University and a master's degree in business administration from Simmons School of Management.


"The book is superbly researched, clearly cited, and provides a wealth of resources for further reading. LoCicero’s stated goal for her book is “to reduce terrorism and reduce prejudice against foreign-born, young Americans, simultaneously.” That’s a tall order, perhaps beyond the reach of a single work, but she has made a significant contribution to the cause. An excellent resource on terrorism for professionals and lay readers alike." —Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2014

"The book makes a number of contributions to the study of terrorism and to our understanding of the challenges that we face. It is written in an accessible language that will make it attractive to students and non-students alike and its content will generate debate and discussion. . . . Why “Good Kids” Turn into Deadly Terrorists represents a useful addition to the literature on terrorism and political violence and reminds the reader that 'we are not doomed by nature to violence'."—Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, June 8, 2015
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