Day of the Assassins
A History of Political Murder
A forensic account of political assassinations from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The traditional image of a political assassin is a lone wolf with a gun, aimed squarely at the head of those they wish to kill. But while there has been enormous speculation on what lay behind notorious individual political assassinations - from Gaius Julius Caesar to John F. Kennedy - the phenomenon itself has scarcely been examined as a special category of political violence, one not motivated by personal gain or vengeance. Now, in Day of the Assassins, acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh explores the many facets of political assassination, explaining the role of historical precedent, why it is more frequent in certain types of society than others and asking if assassination can either bring about change, or prevent it, and whether, like a contagious disease, political murder can be catching. Focusing chiefly on the last century and a half, Burleigh takes readers to the Congo, India, Iran, Laos, Rwanda and South Africa and revisits notable assassinations in Europe, Russia, Israel and the United States. Throughout, the assassins themselves are at the centre of the narrative, whether they were cool, well-trained professional killers, like the agents of the NKVD or the KGB, or men motivated by the politicization of their private miseries. Even some of those who were demonstrably mad had method in the madness and acted for comprehensible political motives. Combining human drama, questions of political morality and the sheer randomness of events, Day of the Assassins is a riveting insight into the politics of violence.
About this Author
Michael Burleigh is a historian and commentator. His books include the bestselling The Third Reich: A New History, which won the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize; Small Wars, Far Away Places, which was longlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize and, most recently, The Best of Times, The Worst of Times. He also won a British Film Institute Award for Archival Achievement and a New York Film and Television Festival Award Bronze Medal. He writes regularly for The Times, Daily Mail, and Mail on Sunday on international affairs. A Professor of Modern History, Michael was the first appointed Engelsberg Chair of History and International Relations at LSE IDEAS, which is an annual distinguished visiting professorship, delivering public lectures to LSE's foreign policy think tank. He held the post from 2019 to 2020. He lives in London, England.
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