The Roots of Terrorist Motivation: Shame, Rage, and Violence in The Brothers Karamazov

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


Dostoevsky's most famous novel dealing with terrorism is his work The Demons. In this first-ever novel about terrorism, he carefully analyzed the various factors that contributed to the rise of modern terrorism. This article argues that Dostoevsky's subsequent novel, The Brothers Karamazov, is equally important inunderstanding the motivations of individual terrorists. The author argues that The Brothers Karamazov is fundamentally a novel about the rage and violence that are the byproducts of shame and humiliation. If modern counterterrorism policymakers, analysts, and operatives are serious about understanding thefundamental motivations of modern terrorists, it may benefit them to read (or reread) The Brothers Karazamov in this light.

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