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Synopsis

Why do terrorists do what they do? Not only are religiously motivated terrorists willing to self-destruct to achieve their goals, but neither threats nor incentives consistently prevent their devastating acts. Compounding this is the fact that soon extremist nations and terrorist groups in the Middle East and Asia will have nuclear weapons and may be driven by religion to use them. Is nuclear terror inevitable or can it be prevented?

Ariel Glucklich, Georgetown professor of religion and advisor to the U.S. defense community, reveals the fallacy of our country's three major assumptions about the motivations that lie behind terrorism:

  • that religious terrorists are acting out of hatred for us,
  • that belief in paradise is the chief factor in their willingness to die for their cause, and
  • that religious extremism is always irrational.

The astonishing reality Glucklich reveals is that these radicals

  • sincerely believe they are motivated by love,
  • actually are attempting to fight internal enemies or “heretics” within their own societies, and
  • desire fame and honor in the here and now, rather than a promised afterlife in heaven.

Dying for Heaven offers a groundbreaking theory of religion and religious destructiveness; the book examines the motivations fueling those who perpetrate religious violence around the globe—from Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists to violent Hindu nationalists, from Jewish-Zionist fundamentalists in Israel to leaders in Iran's race for nuclear weapons, and to Christian messianic defenders of American power. The continuing rise of religion as a global force and the proliferation of nuclear weapons create a unique challenge for policy advisors, who now must understand how far religious extremists will go toward nuclear annihilation. Dying for Heaven provides the key for understanding the religious drive to self-destruct and offers ways to combat the culture of suicide terrorism.

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