An excellent resource on terrorism for professionals and lay readers alike.

Why "Good Kids" Turn Into Deadly Terrorists


A scholarly but accessible analysis of young terrorists that draws on behavioral and social science.

In this book, LoCicero (Creating Young Martyrs, 2008) explores the complex interplay of personal and cultural factors that produces terrorists. She particularly focuses on the two men who were accused of carrying out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing while also surveying the spectrum of youth violence in America. Along the way, she blends in her own perspective on the attack, which was in her hometown, with her experience as a clinical psychologist studying traumatized youth worldwide. The title reflects the dissonance between Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s alleged deeds and the seemingly “normal American kids” that their friends, teachers and neighbors thought they knew. LoCicero convincingly shows that the brothers fit a pattern of young immigrants caught between conflicting identities and loyalties who become susceptible to extremism after personal crises, parental loss or neglect, drug abuse or financial setbacks. She devotes an entire chapter to how terrorist organizations recruit such people, arguing that behind every child soldier or young terrorist, there’s an adult recruiter who profits. Her prescription for preventing terrorism is to short-circuit such recruitment—first, by improving dialogue and engagement with young people, and second, by reducing the social injustice and conflicts worldwide that breed grievances. Hard-liners may equate trying to understand terrorists with excusing their actions, but the author reasons that simply labeling them evil or insane, and relying on incarceration or assassination, does little to prevent future acts. LoCicero often makes her case with great clarity and precision. Sometimes, however, there’s needless repetition; for example, she reminds readers eight times that the boat on which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught was docked in Watertown, Massachusetts. On the other hand, she also constructs her arguments in ways that any layman can understand. The superbly researched, clearly cited book provides a wealth of resources for further reading. LoCicero’s stated goal for her book is “to reduce terrorism and reduce prejudice against foreign-born, young Americans, simultaneously.” That’s a tall order, perhaps beyond the reach of a single work, but she has made a significant contribution to the cause.

An excellent resource on terrorism for professionals and lay readers alike.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1440831881

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.


Known for her often contentious perspectives, New York Times opinion writer Weiss battles societal Jewish intolerance through lucid prose and a linear playbook of remedies.

While she was vividly aware of anti-Semitism throughout her life, the reality of the problem hit home when an active shooter stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue where her family regularly met for morning services and where she became a bat mitzvah years earlier. The massacre that ensued there further spurred her outrage and passionate activism. She writes that European Jews face a three-pronged threat in contemporary society, where physical, moral, and political fears of mounting violence are putting their general safety in jeopardy. She believes that Americans live in an era when “the lunatic fringe has gone mainstream” and Jews have been forced to become “a people apart.” With palpable frustration, she adroitly assesses the origins of anti-Semitism and how its prevalence is increasing through more discreet portals such as internet self-radicalization. Furthermore, the erosion of civility and tolerance and the demonization of minorities continue via the “casual racism” of political figures like Donald Trump. Following densely political discourses on Zionism and radical Islam, the author offers a list of bullet-point solutions focused on using behavioral and personal action items—individual accountability, active involvement, building community, loving neighbors, etc.—to help stem the tide of anti-Semitism. Weiss sounds a clarion call to Jewish readers who share her growing angst as well as non-Jewish Americans who wish to arm themselves with the knowledge and intellectual tools to combat marginalization and defuse and disavow trends of dehumanizing behavior. “Call it out,” she writes. “Especially when it’s hard.” At the core of the text is the author’s concern for the health and safety of American citizens, and she encourages anyone “who loves freedom and seeks to protect it” to join with her in vigorous activism.

A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-13605-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

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