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What Makes a Terrorist:
Economics and the Roots of Terrorism
Alan B. Krueger

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"Using raw data from government, academic, and think-tank sources and citing the work of other economists on poverty, race, terrorism, and hate crimes, Krueger explains in clear and accessible prose that the average terrorist suspect is highly educated, professionally employed, from a middle- or higher-class background, and, most important, from a country that suppresses civil liberties...Avoiding jargon whenever possible and defining it when unavoidable, Krueger excels in making his difficult subject easy to grasp without reducing its inherent complexity. The occasional pop culture reference (e.g., to the Daily Show) adds to the appeal. Highly recommended for both academic and public collections."--April Younglove, Library Journal (starred review)

"What makes a terrorist? Are the drivers primarily political or economic? Princeton economist Alan Krueger has made a great study of this question...What Makes a Terrorist lacks a question mark. That's because Krueger, marshaling persuasive statistics and analysis, comes down firmly on the side of politics, noting most terrorists are middle-class and well-educated."--Thomas P.M. Barnett, Knoxville News Sentinel

"Economist Alan Krueger explores this phenomenon with a systematic study of the evidence.... All in all, the research that Krueger gathers together suggests that if there is a link between poverty, education and terrorism, it is the opposite of the one popularly assumed."--Tim Harford, Financial Times

"[Krueger] analyzed data from NCTC and elsewhere, and came up with often counter-intuitive findings...Krueger's book collects comprehensive evidence."--Zack Phillips, Government Executive

"An invaluable little book.... What Makes a Terrorist uses standard tools of economics and statistical analysis to get at the truth about terrorism.... Krueger finds one familiar fact in all his numbers. Countries with fewer civil liberties tend to produce more terrorists."--Daniel Finkelstein, Times (London)

"Krueger's book is a necessary read for anyone who wishes to understand terrorism, especially because many of the popular notions of what causes it are not rooted in reality. One wishes that politicians, especially, would pay attention."--Amit Varma, Live Mint

"[Krueger] in his groundbreaking new book, What Makes a Terrorist, enlists the 'dismal science' to tackle the despicable one. Provocative, dispassionate and accessible, Krueger's book is a breath of fresh air in the stifling climate of empty speculation that dominates the terror dialogue in post-9/11 America."--Ryan Hagen, Brooklyn Rail

"In a compelling analysis, Krueger points out how a lack of legitimate political expression and civil liberties turns some individuals to terrorism. He also provides a pointed and witty account of the problems the U.S. administration has faced in its own attempts at empiricism. . . . This book is a model of how academics can contribute to major public policy debates."--Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs

"To challenge the widespread view that terrorism is caused by economic deprivation and lack of education, Krueger redirects thinking about terrorism by raising three provocative questions that can be answered by scrutiny of evidence from an economic perspective....Krueger shows how complex the data and issues are, the dangers of moving from correlation to cause--and how to think clearly and courageously about politically motivated violence."--L.J. Alderink, Choice

"I am quite sure that this book will be very widely read; it builds on recent literature by both Krueger and a young breed of scholars who have used technical sophistication to disprove the expected positive effect of poverty and ignorance on terrorism."--Siddhartha Mitra, Eastern Economic Journal

"[E]minently readable and informative."--Ira Smolensky, Magill Book Reviews


"In this beautifully written book, one of the world's most respected economists tackles the question of terrorism. Krueger's work represents the most careful data-driven research ever done in this area. This is a book that a lay audience will read and enjoy, but with a rigor and depth that will inform the experts in the field. This is timely and important work which should play a critical role in shaping our public policies on terrorism."--Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics

"This is a very important book. Krueger proves--with facts, figures, and interviews--that terrorists are not desperately poor killers but well-educated politicians using violence to draw attention to their 'market'--violent change. The way you beat them--as we did in Peru--is not with bigger guns but with better ideas and legal reforms that win over their largest constituency, the poor."--Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

"Professor Krueger's well-researched analysis is exactly the kind of resource the country needs in order to make wise decisions in the war on terror. His extensive data and insightful commentary go to the heart of the causes and consequences of terrorism, with often startling conclusions. A fascinating tour de force, this book will assist scholars and policymakers alike."--Raphael Perl, senior terrorism policy analyst, Congressional Research Service

"This is a book that even George Bush could understand. The United States would be more effective in combating terrorism if the president and his advisors embraced Alan Krueger's fine work. When the history of the 'war on terror' is written, Krueger will be one of the few cited for having taken the time to wrestle with facts and data rather than pander to racist prejudice and fear mongering."--Larry Johnson, CEO of BERG Associates and former CIA counterterrorism official

"These three lectures on terrorism are, despite the gruesomeness of the topic, a delight to read. Who else but Krueger could juxtapose negative binomial regressions and cuts from Comedy Central in a natural way? This book provides clear state-of-the-art answers to fundamental questions about terrorism in a manner that is broadly accessible."--David Laitin, Stanford University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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