A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

The Strategy of Terrorism: How it Works, and Why it Fails


This is the first book to set out a comprehensive framework by which to understand terrorism as strategy. It contends that even terrorism of the supposedly nihilist variety can be viewed as a bona fide method for distributing means to fulfil the ends of policy, that is, as a strategy.

The main purpose of the work is to describe the dynamics of terrorism and evaluate their effectiveness, as well as to theorize upon, and clarify the correlation between, political ends and terrorist means. The text explains the modus operandi of terrorism, and demonstrates how terrorism relies on manipulating the psychological impact of (usually) relatively small-scale attacks. Using a variety of case studies, The Strategy of Terrorism shows how many campaigns of terrorism end in failure when they lose their power to terrify. The authors spell out what a proper understanding of terrorism as a strategy implies for those who want to make terrorism ineffective, and offer a number of policy recommendations derived directly from their critique.

This is the first contribution of strategic studies to the study of terrorism, and will be of much interest to students of terrorism, strategy and security studies, as well as military professionals and policy makers.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Neumann, Peter R. and M.L.R. Smith. 2008. The Strategy of Terrorism: How it Works, and Why it Fails. New York, NY: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/The-Strategy-of-Terrorism-How-it-Works-and-Why-it-Fails/Neumann-Smith/p/book/9780415545266

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