Killing Strangers: How Political Violence Became Modern

ISBN : 9780198863502

T. K. Wilson
288 ページ
162 x 235 mm

A bewildering feature of so much contemporary political violence is its stunning impersonality. Every major city centre becomes a potential shooting gallery; and every metro system a potential bomb alley. Victims just happen, as the saying goes, to 'be in the wrong place at the wrong time'. We accept this contemporary reality - at least to some degree. But we rarely ask: where has it come from historically? Killing Strangers tackles this question head on. It examines how such violence became 'unchained' from inter-personal relationships. It traces the rise of such impersonal violence by examining violence in conjunction with changing social and political realities. In particular, it traces both 'push' and 'pull' - the ability of modern states to force the violence of their challengers into niche forms: and the disturbing new opportunities that technological changes offer to cause mayhem in fresh and original ways. Killing Strangers therefore aims to highlight the very strangeness of contemporary experience when it is viewed against a long-term perspective. Atrocities regularly capture media attention - and just as quickly fade from public view. That is both tragic - and utterly predictable. Deep down we expect no different. And that is why such atrocities must be repeated if our attention is to be re-engaged. Deep down we expect that, too. So Killing Strangers deliberately asks the very simplest of questions. How on earth did we get here?


PART ONE: The State
1 The Modern State and The Society of Hyper-Order to 1939
2 The Modern State and The Society of Hyper-Order from 1939
3 The Resources of Civilization
PART TWO: Society and Technology
4 The Hazards of Social Rank
5 The Means of Destruction
6 Violence, Sabotage, and the Mobile Society


Tim Wilson is an expert on the history of political violence: and why it takes the forms that it does. He became interested in this field whilst running a youth club in North Belfast in the late 1990s. Since 2016 he has served as Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews: the oldest research centre of its kind in Europe. He is a frequent commentator on both national and international media.