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Communicating Terror

Communicating Terror
The Rhetorical Dimensions of Terrorism

Second Edition

October 2009 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The only book to examine terrorism as a rhetorical act

"This is an excellent text in furthering our understanding of the web of language and how it creates our mediated realities – which reflect our culture, politics, religion, economics, etc. Students really like the case studies and how it complements the theory and practice of rhetoric. I think this book has applications for almost any course in communication."      
—J. Gregory Payne, Emerson College

Concise, succinct, and provocative, Communicating Terror, Second Edition explores multiple rhetorical dimensions of terrorism, connects terrorism to communication theories, and helps readers understand how this violence creates a public discourse for multiple target audiences.

Author Joseph S. Tuman uses fascinating case studies and examples as he explores both dissent terrorism and state terror and looks at terrorism from a communicative perspective. Presenting terrorism as a process of communication between terrorists and multiple audiences, this book examines a range of rhetorical components, including definitions and labels, symbolism in terrorism, the relationship between terror and the media, and public oratory about terrorism—by both victims of terrorism and terrorists themselves.

New to the Second Edition

  • Includes three new chapters on public address and speeches concerning terrorism, symbols and targets of terror, and terrorism, rhetorical theory, and mass media.
  • Offers new examples, case studies, speeches, and topic coverage, including expanded coverage of the Internet and the "War on Terror;" new material on Iran, Cambodia, Rwanda, Hamas and Hezbollah, and dirty bombs
  • Provides expanded treatment of rhetoric and theory with a focus on ideological criticism, neo-classical criticism, dramatism, and media-centered terrorism
  • Examines diverse acts of terrorism—not just 9/11 or the recent events in the Middle East—to show the history and various usages of these acts as a medium for communication
  • Includes real case studies of terrorists and terror acts that make applying rhetorical theory practical and accessible

Intended Audience
Communicating Terror, Second Edition is ideal for use in a wide range of courses, including Media & Politics, Terrorism, Media & Society, Rhetorical Theory/Analysis/Criticism, Defense and National Security, and Political Communication.

1. The Struggle to Define Terrorism
Defining Terrorism

Attempts to Synthesize a Consensus Definition



2. Terrorism as a Communication Process With Rhetorical Dimensions
Terrorism as a Communication Process

Terrorism and Rhetoric



3. Labeling and Defining Terrorism as Rhetoric
Definitions and Labels

Reconsidering the Definition of Terrorism



4. Symbols, Symbolism, and Terrorism: Means and Implements
Symbols, Symbolism, and Violence/Destruction

Symbolism in the Implements and Tools of Terrorism



5. Symbolism in the Targets of Terrorism
Temporal Targets for Terrorism

Symbolism in the Chechen Terrorist Attack on a Moscow Theater

Symbolism, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon



6. Methods for Studying Public Oratory About Terrorism
A Method of Rhetoric for Public Oratory



7. Case Studies for Public Oratory About Terrorism
President Bush’s Speech to the Nation Immediately After the Attacks of 9/11

President Bush’s Speech to the Congress, the Nation, and the World on September 20, 2001

Speech by Osama bin Laden, Dated 11/1/2004: Just Before the 2004 General Election in the United States



8. Theories of Mass Media for Terrorism
Understanding Mass Media

Media-Centered Criticism



9. Mass-Mediated Images and Construction of Terrorism
Terrorism From Above and Mass Media

Terrorism From Below and Mass Media

Agenda Setting and the Framing of Terrorism in News Media

Terrorism and New Media

Terrorism and Paid Media



About the Author

It delivered what it advertised, but overall it was far less comprehensive than what I wanted for my course.

Dr Cade Spaulding
Communication Division, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
February 27, 2013

Bizarely perhaps but Northern ireland has very much moved into a post conflict mode with a broad consensus on the way forward that is subscribed to by the vast majority of former combatants as well as the general public. The dissident groups who are scattered and divided have yet to present a coherent strategy beyond trying to sabotage the peace, instigate reprisals and compete among themselves for leadership. We are coming to the realisation that the Northern ireland experience itself is losing general relevance particularly in terms of being a model for terrorism studies. The IRA was to the forefront in terms of tactics,political agitation and the use of media from the late 1960s and was adept at using specific issues to mobilise support and focus the movement's energy. the dissident groups have not mastered these skills in any substantial way; make little innovative use of modern communications and social media. Their target audience is very much its own local community while it has shown little interest in reaching an international audience. Were we to reconstitute this course to a wider study of terrorism I would recommend the Tuman book.

Dr Michael Anderson
Political Science , University College Dublin
November 30, 2012

An excellent source of which the chapter on the struggle to define terrorism assists students in understanding there is a conflict between legal and sociological definitions is one of the key strengths of the book.

Dr David Lowe
School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University
June 2, 2011

This book lays foundational concepts in understanding terror rhetoric from multiple points of view.

Dr Daniel Hodge
Sociology Global Studies Dept, Azusa Pacific University
June 16, 2010

I will also use this book for reference material in the teaching of my Terrorism class next semester. Thank you very much for the assistance of accquiring a sample teachers book.

Professor Clyde Adkison, Jr.
Criminal Justice Admin Dept, Middle Tennessee State University
April 28, 2010

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