Tuesday 17 August 2021

My history of assassination: 'Assassins' Deeds'. Two American professors say it will be 'the definitive treatment of its subject for years to come'! How kind!


'As Withington observes in
 Assassins’ Deeds, his detail-rich study of the form from ancient times to the present, more often than not the best-laid plans of would-be history-changers go unrealized, as the new tends to replicate the old and the iron law of unintended consequences does its grim work. . . . Impressively researched and engagingly narrated, Assassins’ Deeds will likely stand as the definitive treatment of its subject for years to come.'

So write Jerald Podair, Professor of History and Robert S. French, Professor of American Studies, Lawrence University.  The full review is here:


Assassins' Deeds is published by Reaktion Books. It tells how assassins have been killing the powerful and famous for at least 3,000 years. Personal ambition, revenge and anger have encouraged many to violent deeds, such as the Turkish sultan who had nineteen of his brothers strangled or the bodyguards who murdered a dozen Roman emperors. More recently have come new motives like religious and political fanaticism, revolution and liberation, with governments also getting in on the act, while many victims seem to have been surprisingly careless – Abraham Lincoln was killed after letting his bodyguard go for a drink.

So do assassinations work? Drawing on anecdote, evidence and statistical analysis, Assassins’ Deeds delves into some of history’s most notorious acts, unveiling an intriguing cast of characters, ingenious methods of killing, and those unintended consequences.