A suicide bombing in a Shiite neighborhood in Iraq killed 28 people on Monday, including 19 children. Hamid Karzai addressed his pardon of a 14 year old Pakistani boy, who had been recruited as a suicide bomber, with Karzai as his intended target. Yesterday, nine were killed in a suicide car bombing in Pakistan, and another 23 were killed in a separate attack over the weekend.
There has never been a better time for good explanations of this puzzling, and escalating, phenomenon. Hugh Barlow's recent book, Dead For Good: Martyrdom and the Rise of the Suicide Bomber, offers a lucid account of today's suicide bombers as descendants of martyrs throughout history. Over time, once passive martyrs have become more aggressive, and now they are "predatory." Barlow's account of the history of aggressive martyrdom is a riveting series of well-told stories. And although he does not offer strong prescriptions for what to do now, he does something better, give us clearly written, provocative examples from history that leave us much to think about ourselves. Read on for a review of Dead for Good.