"An easily accessible account of the development of martyrdom ...Barlow presents a masterful account of how religion, death and sacrifice developed into the cult of martyrdom of today." Mia Bloom, University of Georgia and author of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror "Thoroughly researched, yet full of novel-like gripping narratives, this book succeeds in giving the reader a glimpse of what might happen in the mind of candidates to "martyrdom" while never loosing sight of the overall context that brings this phenomenon into being, and fuels it." Gilbert Achcar, author of The Clash of Barbarisms "Hugh Barlow is a gifted writer. In this book he uses his skills as a renowned sociologist to bring the reader a refreshing and engaging analysis...This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in understanding martyrdom operations from a broad historical and cultural perspective." Ami Pedahzur, University of Texas at Austin Dead for Good vividly describes how history gave rise to the suicide bombers of today. The passionate submission of ancient Jewish and Christian martyrs was largely supplanted by militant self-sacrifice as Islam spread and holy war erupted in the Crusades. In the Indian Punjab, the Khalsa Sikhs made warrior-martyrdom an instinct and policy in their defense of community and of justice. In a last-ditch effort to defeat the Allies in World War II, the Japanese transformed warrior-martyrs into martyr-warriors trained to sacrifice themselves in attacks on enemy carriers. The current suicide bomber is the latest phase: Whether motivated by nationalism, religious ideology, or a combination of both, the new "predatory" martyr dies for the cause while killing indiscriminately. Exploring martyrdom across cultures and throughout history, this book gives us new insights into today's suicide bombers and answers the common question "Why do they do it?"

chapter |8 pages


part |4 pages

Part I: The Martyrs of Antiquity

chapter 1|14 pages

The Passionate Witness

chapter 2|18 pages

“The Blood of Christians Is Seed”

part |4 pages

Part II: The Rise of the Warrior-Martyr: Muslims, Christians, Assassins, and Sikhs

chapter 3|14 pages

The Spirit of Jihad

part |2 pages

Part III: Martyr-Warriors: Japan’s Kamikazes

chapter 6|24 pages

The Divine Wind

part |4 pages

Part IV: The New Predatory Martyrs 7. The Black Tigers of Sri Lanka:

chapter 9|10 pages


chapter 11|18 pages

The Martyr’s Smile

chapter 12|8 pages

Some Thoughts on the Future of Martyrdom