World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era

By Witt, Steven W. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era


Witt, Steven W., Reference & User Services Quarterly


World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era. Ed. by James Ciment. Armonk, NY : Sharpe Reference, 2011. 3 vols. Acid free $349 (ISBN 978-0-7656-8284-0). Ebook available, call for pricing.

World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era attempts to cover political violence throughout a wide swath of human history. As noted in the introduction, this presents challenges that range from the roots of the term terrorism in the French Revolution to the difficulty of categorizing state and non-state violence under the broad definition of terrorism. These challenges are addressed well in the collection's introductory set of essays that focus on definitions, types, and categories of political violence. Taking a wide angle view, the work adopts the following definition of terrorism: "the use of violence or the threat of violence to effect political change through fear" (xix). This large scope becomes problematic when attempting to include events that took place prior to the 20th Century. There are only about a dozen entries spanning from ancient times to 1900, resulting in very broad coverage of regions and historical events in this large span of time. Taken as a whole, however, the work achieves the aim of broad historical, geographic, and topical coverage of terrorism even though the coverage focuses mostly on twentieth and twenty-first century events.

The encyclopedia is organized in three volumes. Volume one focuses on a typology of terrorism and its historical roots through World War II. Volume two focuses on modern terrorism and the response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. …

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