Donald Holbrook

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Donald Holbrook‘s The Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership’s Public Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2014) represents a significant scholarly contribution to the study of Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism more broadly. Through a remarkably exhaustive, longitudinal study of over 260 public statements from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, Dr. Holbrook exposes Al-Qaeda’s ideology, grievances, objectives, and inconsistencies. He brings a level of rigor to this subject which is frequently absent in “expert” studies on terrorism, having databased and coded Al-Qaeda communiqués for a variety of topics and characteristics. The Al-Qaeda Doctrine will likely become the definitive scholarly monograph on the subject for many years to come. Holbrook’s work is indeed becoming more relevant every day, as ideological ruptures emerge in the jihadist community, most recently evidenced by the Al-Qaeda leadership’s furious response to the Islamic State’s newly declared caliphate. The book’s assessment of Al-Qaeda’s success – indeed its lack thereof – in propagating its message and inspiring a “vanguard” in the Muslim world is also notable; The Al-Qaeda Doctrine‘s sober analysis of this, and many other topics, is  a welcome refreshment from the sometimes sensationalist treatment which this topic is prone to. I highly recommend The Al-Qaeda Doctrine to students, scholars, and practitioners alike, all of whom will glean many valuable insights from Holbrook’s unique work. I look forward to further publications by Holbrook, as well as fresh additions to Bloomsbury’s New Directions in Terrorism Studies series.

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many movies about evil CIA agents assassinating supposed enemies of the US. Those who saw the latest Captain America movie will have witnessed the plan by Hydra (a fascist faction within a secret agency presumably within the CIA) build floating gunships that can identify and eliminate [...]

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Jonathan Allen and Amie ParnesHRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

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Martin A. MillerThe Foundations of Modern Terrorism: State, Society, and the Dynamics of Political Violence

May 31, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Terrorism seems like the kind of thing that has existed since the beginning of states some 5,000 years ago. Understood in one, narrow way–as what we call “insurgency”–it probably has. But modern terrorism is, well, modern as Martin A. Miller explains in The Foundations of Modern Terrorism: State, Society, and the Dynamics of [...]

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] It was timely to record this interview just after the Boston Bombing. Lone Wolf terrorists are individuals operating outside organized groups. If the allegations about the bombers in Boston are correct, then the brothers have acted in the same manner as Lone Wolves.  In Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding [...]

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Elizabeth Cobbs HoffmanAmerican Umpire

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Big Ideas] Is there an “American Empire?” A lot of people on the Left say “yes.” Actually, a lot of people on the Right say “yes” too. But Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman says “no.” In her stimulating new treatment of the history of American foreign policy American Umpire (Harvard UP, 2013), Hoffman lays out the case that [...]

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