Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder (Hardback)
  • Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder (Hardback)
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Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder (Hardback)

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£25.00
Hardback 448 Pages
Published: 27/05/2021

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Waterstones Says

From Trotsky to Khashoggi, Day of the Assassins is a revelatory history of political murder over the past century and a half from the acclaimed author of The Third Reich: A New History.

The traditional image of a political assassin is a lone wolf with a rifle, aimed squarely at the head of those they wish to kill. But while there has been enormous speculation on what lay behind notorious individual political assassinations - from Julius Caesar to John F. Kennedy - the phenomenon itself has scarcely been examined as a special category of political violence, one not motivated by personal gain or vengeance.

Now, in Day of the Assassins, acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh explores the many facets of political assassination, explaining why it is more frequent in certain types of society than others and asking if assassination can either bring about change or prevent it, and whether, like a contagious disease, political murder can be catching. Focusing chiefly on the last century and a half, Burleigh takes readers around the world, from Europe, Russia, Israel and the United States to the Congo, India, Iran, Laos, Rwanda, South Africa and Vietnam. And, as we travel, we revisit notable assassinations, among them Leon Trotsky, Hendrik Verwoerd, Juvenal Habyarimana, Indira Gandhi, Yitzhak Rabin and Jamal Khashoggi.

Throughout, the assassins themselves are at the centre of the narrative, whether they were cool, well-trained professional killers, like the agents of the NKVD or the KGB - or, indeed, the CIA - or men motivated by the politicization of their private miseries, like Gavrilo Princip or Lee Harvey Oswald. Even some of those who were demonstrably mad had method in their madness and acted for comprehensible political motives.

Combining human drama, questions of political morality and the sheer randomness of events, Day of the Assassins is a riveting insight into the politics of violence.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781529030136
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 678 g
Dimensions: 243 x 162 x 45 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Day of the Assassins is written with Burleigh’s characteristic brio, with pithy summaries of historical moments (he is brilliant on the Americans in Vietnam, for example) and full of surprising vignettes, which he handles with a commendable sang-froid. - David Aaronovitch 'Book of the Week', The Times

A lively account of how political murders, from Julius Caesar onwards, have differed from most others. - Daily Telegraph Top History Books of the Year

Michael Burleigh’s Day of the Assassins reminds us that political murder is as old as mankind . . . The detail, as always in Burleigh’s books, is conveyed with great brio - Jonathan Powell, New Statesman

One of the great pleasures of reading Burleigh, a man never afraid to speak his mind, is the matter-of-fact way in which he dissects and disposes of sacred cows . . . Burleigh’s analysis of Putin’s Russia, incidentally, is a brilliant and timely reminder of the danger of taking things at face value. Our world today is as dangerous and mixed-up as it has ever been. Luckily we have Michael Burleigh to help us make sense of it. - Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday

A thoughtful and eminently readable book. - Nigel Jones, BBC History Magazine

Burleigh, a historian of Germany and a prolific newspaper commentator, is careful to recognise the whodunnits where mystery is as gripping as any historical methodology. - Peter Stothard , History Today

Relentlessly sanguinary . . . harshly excellent. - Jonathan Meades, Literary Review

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“A Master Historian at Work”

This is a very impressive work by a hugely accomplished historian and writer, an exemplar of thematic history. It's a style of book that can often go wrong but Burleigh keeps it wonderfully balanced, keeping the... More

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