Narcissism, Patriarchy, and the Culture of Terrorism

Abigail R. Esman

264 pages
3 appendixes


October 2020


$29.95 Pre-order

About the Book

In the days after 9/11, Abigail R. Esman walked the streets of New York haunted by a feeling that was eerily familiar: the trauma of violence that hovered in the air. Friends, family, and strangers moved, walked, even stood as she herself had done earlier as a victim of domestic battery and abuse. Since then, Esman, a journalist who specializes in writing on terrorism and radicalization, has studied the connections between domestic abuse and terrorism and the forces that inspire both forms of violence. In Rage: Narcissism, Patriarchy, and the Culture of Terrorism Esman brings into focus the complex web that ties them together, illuminating the terrorist psyche and the cultures that create it.

With this new approach to understanding terrorism and violence, Esman presents clear explanations of pathological narcissism and its roots in shame-honor cultures—both familial and sociopolitical—through portraits of terrorists and batterers, including O. J. Simpson, Osama bin Laden, Anders Breivik, and Dylann Roof. The insights of psychiatrists, former white supremacists, Islamist terrorists, national security experts, and others elaborate her thesis, while Esman’s own experiences with abuse and the aftermath of 9/11 on the streets of New York City further enrich the narrative.

At a time when so many lives are threatened by public violence and terrorism, understanding the forces that incite them has become crucial, and finding solutions, urgent. Esman proposes social and policy initiatives aimed at reducing violence while engendering social equality and enriching women’s rights. Such proposals, she argues, are essential to overcoming the cultural and political forces that hinder progress toward security and peace. This groundbreaking book sheds new light on the roots of violence and terrorism while advancing proactive measures to protect our values and traditions of justice, equality, and freedom.

Author Bio

Abigail R. Esman is the author of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West. An award-winning journalist and essayist, she has contributed to Foreign Policy, Salon.com, the New Republic, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, World Policy Review, and other venues. She is a regular contributor to the Investigative Project on Terrorism and has spoken widely on the subject, including appearances on radio programs such as WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, BBC News, and CNN.


“Esman’s gorgeously written book maps with precision the subterranean corridors between domestic abuse and terrorism. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding—or taming—the darker corners of the human psyche.”—Michael Noer, executive editor of Forbes

“There has never been a book about terrorism quite like this. In Rage Abigail R. Esman dares to expose the raw nerves that link domestic abuse and mass murder. The connections she makes are scholarly sound, deeply personal, and have an emotional resonance that many readers will find unforgettable.”—Christopher Dickey, world news editor for the Daily Beast and author of Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force–the NYPD

Table of Contents

Author’s Note    
Chapter 1. The Narcissist    
Chapter 2. The Shame and the Power    
Chapter 3. Honor Society    
Chapter 4. Empathy    
Chapter 5. The Abuser    
Chapter 6. The Abused    
Chapter 7. Terror, Honor, Violence    
Chapter 8. The Women    
Chapter 9. The Ties That Bind    
Chapter 10. Peace at Home, Peace in the World    
Chapter 11. Culture of Terrorism    
Chapter 12. Toward a Solution    
Appendix A. Following the Links of Terrorism and Violence    
Appendix B. Statistics    
Appendix C. Violence at Home, Violence in the World    

Also of Interest