Jessica Stern


Terror in the Name of God

About the Book

For four years, Jessica Stern interviewed extremist members of three religions around the world: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Traveling extensively—to refugee camps in Lebanon, to religious schools in Pakistan, to prisons in Amman, Asqelon, and Pensacola—she discovered that the Islamic jihadi in the mountains of Pakistan and the Christian fundamentalist bomber in Oklahoma have much in common.

Based on her vast research, Stern lucidly explains how terrorist organizations are formed by opportunistic leaders who—using religion as both motivation and justification—recruit the disenfranchised. She depicts how moral fervor is transformed into sophisticated organizations that strive for money, power, and attention.

Jessica Stern’s extensive interaction with the faces behind the terror provide unprecedented insight into acts of inexplicable horror, and enable her to suggest how terrorism can most effectively be countered.

A crucial book on terrorism, TERROR IN THE NAME OF GOD is a brilliant and thought-provoking work.

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“No scholar has done more than Jessica Stern to make the phenomenon of terrorism comprehensible. In TERROR IN THE NAME OF GOD, she tells us the story of her journey in search of the deep roots of terrorist psychology. . . . She presents a frightening and deeply instructive picture of the ways in which religion can serve to legitimize acts of violence.”
— Micheal Ignatieff, Carr Professor of Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

“Stern’s important book, devoid of sentimentality or sensationalism, brings the reader face-to-face with the realities of global terror and the danger it presents to our way of life. This is essential reading.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“A significant addition to a growing shelf of timely books on terrorism.”
Christian Science Monitor

“One of the most interesting books you’ll ever read on terrorism…an incredibly intriguing widow into the minds of those who use God to justify violence against others.”
Boston Globe

“Anybody who thinks Eric Robert Rudolph has nothing in common with Osama bin Laden needs to spend some time with TERROR IN THE NAME OF GOD. An emphatic case for understanding terrorists in order to defeat them.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Stern’s firsthand encounters bring a valuable and much-needed perspective to the problem of religious violence.”
Publishers Weekly

“Her close-up portraits allow readers to glimpse the fierce alienation and the festering grudges that drive desperate men (and a few women) to embrace violent theologies promising earthly paradise and heavenly salvation to all those who join their merciless crusades. Timely and compelling.”

“I love this fascinating, informative, and courageous book. Jessica Stern addresses issues essential for understanding how politics and religion fuse in terrorist activity.”
Elaine Pagels

“All Americans now recognize the terrorist threat. Jessica Stern, a leading expert, adds much to our understanding in this readable book about the relationship between personal conviction and terror, providing a long look into the thinking of actual terrorists around the globe.”
— John Deutch, former Director of Central Intelligence

“Many scholars have developed theories about the motivations of terrorists, particularly religious ones, in today’s world. Jessica Stern, however, has gone to the root source and interviewed terrorists from many countries and faiths as to why their religion leads them to do what they do. The result is a penetrating, illuminating, and profoundly important account of their many motives, ‘from grievance to greed,’ and how organizations appealing to these motives become successful. Her analysis is indispensible to our understanding contemporary terrorist threats to the civilized world.”
— Sam Huntington, Professor of Government, Harvard University

“Why do global terrorists frequesntly see themselves as instruments of divine wrath? Jessica Stern’s personal encounters with Al Qaeda operatives, anti-abortionist killers, jihadi militants and suicide-bombers give us a rare and revelaing insight into worlds that shadow our own, but seem radically alien to us. Face to face with some of the most dangerous religious militants of our times, Stern looks evil in the eye and demands explanations for the dire consequences of their beliefs and actions. Her fine narrative, free of sentimentality or sensationalism, provides the most honest picture of the dangers we face, and the ways in which we can combat the deep causes of global terror. This is a reasoned plea for policy initiatives to be tempered by cultural understanding and ethical reflection. Stern’s unflinching moral courage refuses to let militarism or cynicism have the last word. You will not be able to put down this book, except to applaud.”
— Homi K. Bhabha, Rothenberg Professor of English Literature, Harvard University

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