Though the history of terrorism stretches back to the ancient world, today it is often understood as a recent development. Comprehensive enough to serve as a survey for students or newcomers to the field, yet with enough depth to engage the specialist, The Routledge History of Terrorism is the first single-volume authoritative reference text to place terrorism firmly into its historical context.

Terrorism is a transnational phenomenon with a convoluted history that defies easy periodization and narrative treatment. Over the course of 32 chapters, experts in the field analyze its historical significance and explore how and why terrorism emerged as a set of distinct strategies, tactics, and mindsets across time and space. Chapters address not only familiar topics such as the Northern Irish Troubles, the Palestine Liberation Organization, international terrorism, and the rise of al-Qaeda, but also lesser-explored issues such as:

  • American racial terrorism
  • state terror and terrorism in the Middle Ages
  • tyrannicide from Ancient Greece and Rome to the seventeenth century
  • the roots of Islamist violence
  • the urban guerrilla, terrorism, and state terror in Latin America
  • literary treatments of terrorism.

With an introduction by the editor explaining the book’s rationale and organization, as well as a guide to the definition of terrorism, an historiographical chapter analysing the historical approach to terrorism studies, and an eight-chapter section that explores critical themes in the history of terrorism, this book is essential reading for all those interested in the past, present, and future of terrorism.

chapter 1|12 pages


part I|48 pages

State Terror, Tyrannicide, and Terrorism in the Pre-Modern World

chapter 3|18 pages

Pre-Modern Terrorism

The cases of the Sicarii and the Assassins

chapter 4|15 pages

Terrorism in the middle Ages

The seeds of later developments

part III|158 pages

Terrorism in the Twentieth Century

chapter 12|13 pages

Britain's Small Wars

The challenge to Empire, 1881–1951

chapter 13|14 pages

Britain's Small Wars

The Empire strikes back, 1952–68

chapter 15|21 pages

Violence in the Algerian war of Independence

Terror, counter-terror, and compliance

part V|118 pages

Critical Themes in the history of Terrorism

chapter 26|14 pages

Suicide Terrorism

chapter 27|17 pages

Counter-Terrorism and Conspiracy

Historicizing the struggle against terrorism

part VI|16 pages

The Historiography of Terrorism