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Essentials of Terrorism

Essentials of Terrorism
Concepts and Controversies

Fifth Edition
  • Gus Martin - California State University, Dominguez Hills, USA
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September 2018 | 352 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Captivating, concise, and current, Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies introduces readers to the modern landscape of domestic and international terrorism. The Fifth Edition of Gus Martin’s renowned text covers key foundational topics and provides a framework for defining terrorism and exploring its history and causes, while also discussing terrorist environments, tactics, targets, and counterterrorism. 

This new edition includes information regarding intelligence, counterterrorism laws, and deprivation theory, as well as new and updated sections discussing mass violence in the United States, narco-terrorism, anti-state dissident terrorism, ISIS, and a new theoretical model for ending terrorist campaigns. The text also examines recent attacks and presents new data, case studies, and photos to show readers the state of terrorism across the globe today. 

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About the Author
Part I. Understanding Terrorism: A Conceptual Review
Chapter 1: Defining Terrorism
Understanding Political Extremism  
Formal and Informal Definitions  
Objectives and Goals of Terrorism  
Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?  
The Political Violence Matrix  
Chapter 2: Historical Perspectives and Ideological Origins
Historical Perspectives on Terrorism  
Ideological Origins of Terrorism  
September 11, 2001, and the New Terrorism  
Chapter 3: Causes of Terrorist Violence
Political Violence as the Fruit of Injustice  
Political Violence as Strategic Choice  
Moral Justifications for Political Violence  
Chapter 4: Terrorist Violence and the Role of the Media
Understanding the Role of the Media  
A New Battleground: The War for the Information High Ground  
Part II. Terrorist Environments
Chapter 5: Terrorism by the State
Perspectives on Terrorism by Governments  
Domestic Terrorism by the State  
Terrorism as Foreign Policy  
Chapter 6: Terrorism by Dissidents
Perspectives on Violent Dissent  
The Practice of Dissident Terrorism  
Terrorist Targets and Weapons  
Dissidents and the New Terrorism  
Chapter 7: Religious Terrorism
Historical Perspectives on Religious Violence  
The Practice of Religious Terrorism  
Trends and Projections  
Chapter 8: International Terrorism
Understanding International Terrorism  
International Terrorist Networks  
The International Dimension of the New Terrorism  
Chapter 9: Domestic Terrorism in the United States
Left-Wing Extremism in the United States  
Left-Wing Terrorism in the United States  
Right-Wing Extremism in the United States  
Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States  
Understanding the Persistence of Violent Ideologies in the United States  
Part III. The Terrorist Battleground
Chapter 10: Counterterrorism and the War on Terrorism
The Use of Force  
Operations Other Than War: Repressive Options  
Operations Other Than War: Conciliatory Options  
Legalistic Responses  
Chapter 11: Homeland Security
Homeland Security in Perspective  
Homeland Security in the United States  
Civil Liberties and Securing the Homeland  
Chapter 12: Future Trends and Projections
What Does the Future Hold?  
Revisiting the War on Terrorism  
Appendix: Map References


Student Study Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.


  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts.
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material.
  • Exclusive access to various full-text SAGE journal articles support and expand on the concepts presented in the chapters to help develop critical thinking skills.
  • Original videos feature interviews with the author and provide contemporary examples that relate back to the chapter content.
  • Carefully selected web-based video resources feature relevant interviews, lectures, personal stories, inquiries, and other content for use in independent or classroom-based explorations of key topics.
  • Multimedia content includes videos that appeal to students with different learning styles.
Instructor Teaching Site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • Original videos feature interviews with the author to provide students with contemporary examples that relate back to the chapter content.
  • A Microsoft® Word test bank is available containing multiple-choice, true/false, short-answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides a diverse range of pre-written options, as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester courses provide suggested models for use when creating the syllabi.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for courses and highlight essential content and features.
  • Exclusive access to various full-text SAGE journal articles that support and expand on the concepts presented in the chapters. Combine cutting-edge academic journal scholarship with the topics in the course for a robust classroom experience that encourages students to think critically.
  • Multimedia content includes videos that appeal to diverse learners.

“This text is an outstanding resource for an introductory class in terrorism studies. It is well organized and provides a comprehensive review of key issues impacting the study of political violence.”

Robert S. McDonnell
University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Essentials of Terrorism is an accessible and engaging text that covers all essential topics with useful pedagogical features.”

John W. King
Baldwin Wallace University

“Useful and good overview. Supplemented with current topics, [it is a] great text to have the students understand the complex topic of terrorism.”

Jeff Schwartz
Rowan University

Excellent Introductory Book

Mr Ernest Pucillo
Homeland Security and Security Management, LONG ISLAND BUSINESS INST
June 18, 2018
Key features


  • New sections include “The New Terrorist Morality,” “A Theoretical Model for Ending Terrorist Campaigns,” and “Non-terrorist Mass Violence in the United States.”
  • New technology is explored in relation to combating terrorism, such as the use of armed drone aircraft and intelligence strategies.
  • Learning Objectives have been added to the beginning of each chapter using Bloom’s taxonomy, focusing students’ attention on key concepts.
  • Updated Chapter Perspectives discuss timely events and topics such as recent terrorist attacks, narco-terrorism, anti-state dissident terrorism, and ISIS.
  • Note references, examples, and discussion boxes have been updated for currency and relevance.
    Note references, examples, and discussion boxes have been updated for currency and relevance.


  • Chapter-opening viewpoints provide discussions and case studies on a wide range of topics.
  • Discussion boxes stimulate critical thinking and encourage classroom discussions and debates about timely topics.
  • Organized around the underlying causes of terrorism, the book aids students in examining the effect of extremist ideologies, religious intolerance, and traumatic episodes in the lives of nations and people.
  • Fully updated tables and figures are included to present an empirical summary of discussions and concepts, allowing readers to conduct insightful research and analyses.


Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: Defining Terrorism

Chapter 6: Terrorism by Dissidents

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