Dying to Kill

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror, Mia Bloom presents a detailed study of suicide terror, putting it into historical context and exploring what contemporary cases have to teach us about the phenomenon. Bloom, who is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati and a consultant to the New Jersey Office of Counter- Terrorism, makes clear that terrorism is not a modern invention, dating back at least to the early days of the Roman Empire. She then takes detailed looks at more recent suicide terrorism as it has played out in the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, the civil war in Sri Lanka, and occasional outbreaks in Turkey, using these cases to come up with an overall theory of suicide terror. Bloom has relatively little to say about the psychology of the suicide bombers themselves, but she does ascribe varying levels of suicide terror to the motivations of the sponsoring organizations as they vie for influence and prestige.

Bloom uses her findings to speculate about the prospects of victory in the ongoing war against terror, as well as the likelihood that suicide terrorists will strike again on United States soil. While qualifying her conclusions and pointing out the complexity of future projections, Bloom does make clear that she believes there is little reason to be sanguine about either issue. She also states, in no uncertain terms, that the war in Iraq has been a setback for the war on terrorism, making Iraq a handy target for eager terrorists and enabling the sponsors of terrorism to enhance their overall efforts at recruitment.