The Invention of Terrorism examines key cases of terrorist violence to show that the invention of terrorism was linked to the birth of modernity in Europe, Russia and the United States, rather than to Tsarist despotism in nineteenth century Russia or to Islam sects in Medieval Persia. Combining a highly readable historical narrative with analysis of larger issues in social and political history, Carola Dietze argues that the dissemination of news about terrorist violence was at the core of a strategy aimed to politically impact rulers as well as the general public. Dietze’s lucid account also reveals how the spread of knowledge about terrorist acts was, from the outset, a transatlantic process. Using case studies from France, the United States, Germany and Russia, Dietze shows that terrorism has existed as a tactic since the 1850s and has essentially only been adapted through the use of new technologies and methods.
“This book may well revolutionize our understanding of the origins of terrorism in the 19th century. In highly original fashion, it closely links together the actions of terrorists in France, Russia, and the United States and shows how between 1858 and 1866 two key terrorists influenced three copycats who altogether ignited the explosion of modern terrorism. The depth of Dietze’s research, drawing upon archives not only in Europe and the United States, but also in Russia, is staggering. A must read for anyone interested in the history of terrorism.”