About the Book
Like the steam engine, terrorism is an invention of the European-American world of the nineteenth century. This book identifies the inventers and describes the interaction between action, politics, and public media.
In contrast to accounts that have been widespread in recent years, terrorism is a product of the modern era: Terrorism as a tactical scheme emerged in the wake of the great revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the development of the mass media and the public sphere. Carola Dietze identifies five inventers of terrorism. She offers a highly-readable account of where their political stance and biographical development leading up to their terrorist deeds. Italian Felice Orsini, in the course of his involvement in the struggle for Italian unity and democracy, perpetrated a bombing attack on French emperor Napoleon III in 1858, causing a sensation in Europe and the USA. In the United States, John Brown, a key figure in the fight to abolish slavery and liberate America’s slaves, followed reports on Orsini’s act of violence and adopted his tactics. Brown’s attack on Harpers Ferry in 1859 marks the historical moment in which terrorism emerged. In Germany, Oskar Becker attempted to emulate Orsini’s act with an attack on Wilhelm I. John Wilkes Booth and Dmitrij Vladimirovič Karakozov, in acts that targeted US president Abraham Lincoln and the Russian czar Aleksandr II. in 1866, followed primarily the pattern set by John Brown.
Carola Dietze retraces the transfer and reception processes between Europe, Russia, and the USA and offers an account of the invention of terrorism as a revolutionary (as well as counter-revolutionary) tactic that was already completely formed by 1866 and has only been varied with respect to its technical elements since then.