A Biographical Dictionary of the World's Assassins


391 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-679-31051-7
DDC 364.15'24'0922




Reviewed by Danial Duda

Danial Duda is an information services librarian in the Queen Elizabeth
II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


In this fascinating collection of brief biographies of over 200
assassins, George Fetherling describes what it means to assassinate: you
“kill up,” meaning that the victim is either more powerful or famous
than the assassin. In contrast, the act of an authority figure who kills
someone who is less powerful is called an execution. The word assassin
comes from the Arabic word hashish. The Assassins were a splinter group
of Ismaili Muslims who supposedly took the drug hashish before
committing their murderous acts.

Fetherling identifies five types of assassins: the political assassin,
common from ancient times to the Renaissance; mercenary killers, who
kill at long range so as to escape from the scene of the murder; the
ideological or religious assassin, common in Europe during the 19th
century; killers of celebrities, a relatively recent phenomenon that
mainly takes place in first world countries; and people who seek out
personal revenge.

The entries are arranged alphabetically by last name. A list of
resources used is given at the end of each biography. An annotated list
of general resources is provided in the introduction, and there is an
index of victims. A valuable asset in any reference collection, this
biographical dictionary will interest general readers and serve as a
useful resource for students, researchers, historians, criminologists,
and sociologists.


Fetherling, George., “A Biographical Dictionary of the World's Assassins,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7114.