Terrorism and Counterterrorism: 5th Edition (e-Book) book cover

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

5th Edition

By Brigitte L Nacos


478 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Focusing on the phenomenon of terrorism in the age of ISIS/ISIL, Terrorism and Counterterrorism investigates this form of political violence in an international and American context and in light of new and historical trends. In this comprehensive and highly readable text, renowned expert Brigitte Nacos clearly defines terrorism's diverse causes, actors, and strategies; outlines anti- and counter-terrorist responses; and highlights terrorism's relationship with the public and media. Terrorism and Counterterrorism introduces students to the field's main debates and helps them critically assess our understanding of, and our strategies for, addressing this complex and enduring issue.

New to the 5th Edition

  • Covers important terrorist developments since 2012 including the death of Osama bin Laden, the rise of ISIS, the proliferation of home-grown jihadism including the Boston Marathon bombing, and the revelations of Edward Snowden and the NSA.
  • Refines the treatment of important issues including "justifiable" or "legitimate" terror, waves of terror, and state sponsored terror, among others.
  • Amplifies the coverage of media and terrorism including e-terrorism, the role of social media in recruitment, "propaganda by deed," and other cutting edge topics.



Few textbooks on terrorism and counter-terrorism make it into a fifth edition, and few of them are able to appeal to students as well as counter-terrorism professionals. The new, fully revised edition of Brigitte Nacos' classic manages to do both, providing the reader with state-of-the-art insights and latest trends, with ample attention going to the role of the Internet.

Alex P. Schmid, Leiden University College and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT); Editor-in-Chief of Perspectives on Terrorism

Brigitte Nacos’ Terrorism and Counterterrorism is the benchmark reference for anyone touched by terrorism, which is everyone! This superbly organized, concise, timely, and well-written text on terrorism and counterterrorism should be a required read for all students, policy makers, journalists, and anyone in the first responder, law enforcement, military, and intelligence community. It is a must-read for every American citizen.

William Eppright, III, Columbia College; FBI Special Agent and Terrorism Investigator

The 5th edition of Brigitte Nacos's Terrorism and Counterterrorism is current and eminently readable. The new edition by this renowned and respected scholar provides an in-depth yet broad overview that includes the latest context of global terrorism (i.e., ISIS) and makes a significant contribution to the field. Students find the text engaging, well-organized, and meticulously researched. I have used the Nacos text for years, and I can promise it will not disappoint.

Ronald W. Vardy, University of Houston

I have been teaching courses on terrorism for ten years and have always used this book. It fulfills all of my criteria for a good textbook—it is thorough, engaging, and reasonably priced.

Tobias Lanz, University of South Carolina

Brigitte Nacos' learned and accessible Terrorism and Counterterrorism has been a go-to textbook for me, for both undergraduate and introductory graduate courses, since its first edition. Its treatment of the intersections of terrorism and media—"old" and "new"—is a particular strength. A welcome inclusion in the fifth edition is a cutting-edge chapter on the role of women and children in terrorism.

—Maura Conway, Dublin City University


In this book Brigitte Nacos skillfully surveys the landscape of terrorism in the contemporary world. As she notes, there are few studies of much relevance on our shelves after 9/11. Terrorism and Counterterrorism begins to provide us with an understanding of the enormous variety and scale of what we need to understand.

Charles B. Strozier, Center of Terrorism at John Jay College; author of Apocalypse: On the Psychology of Christian Fundamentalism

Professor Nacos demonstrates how a skilled educator can guide her students on a clear path through the noise jungle of terrorism studies. Her work synthesizes a complex and growing field of research, illuminating important concepts and issues with clarity and precision. From beginning to end, this book will certainly enhance any reader's understanding of terrorism and the counterterrorism challenges of the 21st century. While written primarily for students and scholars, it will also be useful to policymakers, national security professionals, and local emergency responders, and is accessible to a broad, general audience.

James J.F. Forest, United States Military Academy

This text addresses both the basics and the advanced aspects of terrorism in a thorough manner. The text then moves forward into other critical and timely events that are at the core of the study of terrorism, and the author's perspective is real world and realistic … [It is] an accurate, realistic, encompassing text that addresses the most salient aspects of terrorism in an easy reading manner.

Peter A. Barone, Teikyo Post University; HIDTA Assistance Group

This book is fair, balanced, scholarly, and easily accessible because it is jargon-free. It possessed depth and breadth simultaneously while engaging the reader in its content. This book is a most useful teaching and learning tool in addition to being a 'good read' for the general public.

Dean A. Minix, Northern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Terrorist Threat PART 1: Terrorism 2. The Perennial Debate: What Is Terrorism? 3. Terrorism in the Global Context 4. Terrorism in the American Context 5. Religious Terrorism: Political Violence in the Name of God 6. The Making of Terrorists: Causes, Conditions, Influences 7. Women, Children, and Terrorism 8. Common Thread: Goals, Targets, and Tactics 9. Organizational Structures and the Financing of Terror PART 2: Counterterrorism 10. Terrorism and America’s Post–9/11 National Security Strategy 11. The Utility of Hard and Soft Power in Counterterrorism 12. Balancing Security, Liberty, and Human Rights 13. Homeland Security: Preparedness and Prevention PART 3: Terrorism and Counterterrorism in News Media and Internet 14. Terrorist Propaganda and the Mainstream Media 15. Terror and Hate in Cyberspace 16. Counterterrorism in the News 17. Conclusion: Living with Terrorist Threats APPENDIX: Major Terrorist Incidents since the Late 1970s

About the Author

Brigitte L. Nacos teaches political science at Columbia University and was a long-time U.S. correspondent for newspapers in Germany.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Radicalism