In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Terrorism

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Anthologies and Archives
  • Data Sources
  • History of State-Supported and Anti-State Terrorism
  • International Islamist and Other Religiously Oriented Movements
  • International Organizations and Terrorism
  • US Government Perspectives
  • Critique of American Strategy
  • Perspectives on the Global War on Terrorism
  • Globalization and Terrorism
  • Countering International Terrorism

International Relations Terrorism
Hall Gardner
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 November 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0055


Terrorism is a multidimensional concept in which most definitions (there are at least 100) include the use of violence or force, with an emphasis on instigating fear or “terror.” International terrorism can be considered the use of psychologically, culturally, morally, or legally “unacceptable” violence, or else the threat to use such force or violence, by state, anti-state or even non-state actors, generally with the intent to achieve or express some form of political, social, economic, or ideological goal, belief, or statement that crosses state boundaries or results in some form of international repercussion or response. The goals of this bibliography are to familiarize the reader with works that seek to explain the American and international responses to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which arguably represented the greatest single act of anti-state international “terrorism” in history. Concurrently, the bibliography also chooses works that seek to explain the reasons for those attacks and their possible consequences. As it is state or military leaderships that have generally been responsible for the most significant acts of international “terrorism” throughout history, and not anti-state actors, this bibliography also seeks to emphasize those books that explore the complex interaction between state-supported and anti-state violence. The bibliography also chooses works that explore how globalization affects the tactics and strategies of the new terrorism and what policies states and international organizations need to adopt to deal with this form of threat.

General Overviews

A number of texts provide a general overview of issues related to international terrorism. These introductory texts can be used to establish a foundation of understanding about terrorism, both past and present, which need to be supplemented with additional resources that go into greater and more specific detail. Camus 1992 is a classic text that explains why people oppose existing governments, in discussing both individual and state terror. One of the best introductory texts, Howard and Sawyer 2003, provides a number of excellent chapters from differing perspectives on the historical background of anti-state terrorism, in addition to highly detailed coverage on the nature of the contemporary threat. Simonsen and Spindlove 2006 offer a more general, easy to read, survey of contemporary terrorist movements. Chaliland and Blin 2007 explores a number of historical perspectives on anti-state and state-supported terrorism. Hoffman 2006 provides a deeper sociopolitical analysis of the contemporary anti-state movements. Wilkinson 2001 argues that there has been an upsurge of religiously oriented groups, with a general decrease in extreme left-wing and right-wing groups. Wright 2006 is one of the best-researched books on al-Qaeda.

  • Camus, Albert. The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. New York: Vintage, 1992.

    A classic and thought-provoking text as to why men oppose existing governments, examining differing forms of metaphysical and historical rebellion, as well as individual and state forms of terrorism.

  • Chaliland, Gérard, and Arnaud Blin, eds. The History of Terrorism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

    Provides a general history of terrorism by both states and anti-state movements both before and after the French Revolution, arguing that the latter represents the origins of modern totalitarian “terrorism” but has also inspired anti-state “terrorist” movements. The book also examines French Resistance “terrorism” versus Vichy authorities and left-wing movements in the United States and Europe, along with Islamic terrorism and al-Qaeda.

  • Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

    Discusses complications in defining terrorism, analyzes suicidal terrorism, shows the relationship between religion and terrorism as well as the techniques and technologies of terrorism, and discusses how the collapse of empires often results in the rise of groups willing to use extreme violence. Book also discusses how terrorism can be “internationalized” when groups enact “major media events” by targeting symbols of power.

  • Howard, Russell D., and Reid L. Sawyer, eds. Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment: Readings and Interpretations. Guilford, CT: McGraw Hill, 2003.

    Covers key themes with regard to contemporary terrorist movements, goals, and methods. Seeks a definition for “terrorism”; provides historical examples of “terrorist” movements; examines the “new” terrorism; the relationship between religion and the terrorism; threats to use weapons of mass destruction; use of the media, including the Internet; and strategies for combating terrorism. Excellent interview with Eqbal Ahmed, among other excellent chapters.

  • Simonsen, Clifford E., and Jeremy R. Spindlove. Terrorism Today: The Past, the Players, the Future. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

    Easy-to-read introductory text that outlines the activities of differing “terrorist” groups around the world, discussed region by region. The book provides an introductory history of both state and anti-state forms of “terrorism” as well as an analysis of counter-terrorist strategies.

  • Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism Versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response. Cass Series on Political Violence 9. London: Frank Cass, 2001.

    Updated after the 11 September 2001 attacks, this book argues that there has been an upsurge of religiously oriented groups, with a general decrease in extreme left-wing and right-wing groups. A number of these are state-supported and increasingly possess international outreach in obtaining arms and funding from overseas. All contemporary forms of terrorism appear to be augmenting their destructive capabilities while striking civilian populations indiscriminately.

  • Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11. New York: Knopf, 2006.

    One of the best-researched books on the rise of al-Qaeda. Examines the lives of Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden by means of hundreds of interviews. The book traces their childhood through to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and explains why these men became “fundamentalists” in opposing “apostate” Islamic regimes, as well as the United States and other European powers, in addition to the Soviet Union/Russia.

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