Max Abrahms

Rules for Rebels

The Science of Victory in Militant History

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About The Book


Ever wonder why militant groups behave as they do? For instance, why did Al Qaeda attack the World Trade Center whereas the African National Congress tried to avoid civilian bloodshed? Why does Islamic State brag over social media about its gory attacks, while Hezbollah denies responsibility or even apologizes for its carnage?

This book shows that militant group behavior depends on the tactical intelligence of the leaders. The author has extensively studied the political plights of hundreds of militant groups throughout world history and reveals that successful militant leaders have followed three rules. These rules are based on original insights from the fields of political science, psychology, criminology, economics, management, marketing, communication, and sociology. It turns out there’s a science to victory in militant history. But even rebels must follow rules.

About The Author


Dr. Max Abrahms is an expert on the subject of terrorism and counterterrorism. Currently, he is a professor of political science and public policy at Northeastern University. He has held fellowships and other positions with the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, the Empirical Studies of Conflict project at Princeton University, the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Military Academy, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, the Center for the Study of Terrorism in Rome, the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, the economics department at Bar Ilan University, the political science department at Johns Hopkins University, and the Belfer Center at Harvard University. Abrahms publishes in leading scholarly journals such as International Security, International Organization, Comparative Political Studies, Harvard Business Review, Security Studies, Foreign Affairs, and International Studies Quarterly. His terrorism analysis is frequently featured by Al Jazeera, Associated Press, BBC, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post, and other international media outlets.