A startling look at the deepest, darkest secrets that terrorists pray you'll never know. For decades, experts from the most powerful governments and prestigious universities around the world have told us that suicide bombers are psychologically normal men and women driven by a single-minded purpose: self-sacrifice. As it turns out, this claim originated with the terrorist leaders themselves, who insisted that they would never recruit mentally unstable people to carry out suicide attacks. As these strikes have become both increasingly common and increasingly deadly, no one has challenged this conventional wisdom. These are fearless ideological warriors, we're told, who have the same resolve and commitment to their beliefs as our own Navy SEALs, because they're willing to die for the sake of their cause. In The Myth of Martyrdom, Adam Lankford argues that these so-called experts have it all wrong. The truth is that most suicide terrorists are like any other suicidal person-longing to escape from unbearable pain, be it depression, anxiety, marital strife, or professional failure. Their 'martyrdom' is essentially a cover for an underlying death wish. Drawing on an array of primary sources, including suicide notes, love letters, diary entries, and martyrdom videos, Lankford reveals the important parallels that exist between suicide bombers, airplane hijackers, cult members, and rampage shooters. The result is an astonishing account of rage and shame that will transform the way we think of terrorism forever. We can't hope to stop these deadly attacks, Lankford argues, until we understand what's really behind them. This timely and provocative book flips a decades-old argument on its head-and has huge implications for our future. "The book is fascinating for its de-tailed examinations of a range of suicidal attacks and its syntheses of the motives of a disparate group of killers. Lankford challenges the thinking that has dominated public discussion since 9/11 in a highly readable way...The Myth of Martyrdom is a valuable contribution to America's quest to stop mass killings." - Anna Fifield, Financial Times "A fierce attack on the view that suicide terrorists are true martyrs to a cause, worthy of respect or honor because of their commitment." - Kirkus Reviews "In The Myth of Martyrdom, Adam Lankford demonstrates that suicide-murderers who call themselves martyrs are actually suicidal. Like many important ideas, this one seems utterly obvious once someone presents the overwhelming evidence and makes the compelling argument. As Lankford shows, terrorists are motivated by a lot more than the ideologies they espouse - including their emotions. In short, terrorists are people. A critically important contribution to the literature and, one hopes, to our counter-terrorism." - Jessica Stern, former Director of Russian Affairs, National Security Council, and author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill "A provocative and eye-opening look at the psychological forces that drive suicide terrorists to seek their own destruction." - Peter Langman, author of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters "A lively, insightful, and evidence-based analysis of the most disruptive phenomenon in world affairs today. Adam Lankford challenges the conventional wisdom about suicide terrorism in a way that respects the facts, resolves the paradox (with profound implications for many other issues), and not least, de-romanticizes this loathsome practice."