Claudia Verhoeven, The Odd Man Karakazov: Imperial Russia, Modernity and the Birth of Terrorism

Simon Pawley


In this provocative monograph, ClaudiaVerhoeven examines the relationship between terrorism and modern forms of political thought and action; avoiding a programmatic definition, she treats terrorism “not simply [as] a strategy…but rather a paradigmatic way of becoming a modern political subject.” (4) Verhoeven explores this connection through an investigation of what she argues was the foundational act of modern terrorism – the failed attempt by Dmitry Karakozov to assassinate Russian Tsar Alexander II in 1866. This act has received so little attention from historians, she suggests, because it was unsuccessful and because Karakazov – said to have been mentally disturbed – is thought not to have understood the significance of his actions.

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