Reviews

Biographical Dictionary of the World's Assassins

S. K. Page

George Fetherling, in his Biographical Dictionary of the World’s Assassins (Random House), offers a useful five-part typology of assassins that appears to be a first of its kind. (Type fives seek personal revenge, type threes are hired mercenaries, type ones are the most common, etc. Fetherling points out that Lee Harvey Oswald, if all of the theories about him prove to be true, may be the only assassin in history to fit all five types.) The purposes of this book are best expressed in the jacket copy, which, merely by posing a series of questions, makes us want to own a copy. Who assassinated Archduke Ferdinand in 1914? (A type one, in fact.) Who killed Rasputin? How many people tried to kill Hitler, or Queen Victoria? Who has survived the most assassination attempts? How do assassins in Japan differ from their counterparts in the U.S.A.? What assassins have been produced by such “famously peace-loving” societies as Canada and Australia?—a question close to our hearts but not fully answered in the book: Fetherling has omitted the killing of James Laporte in Montreal in October 197, an act that Fetherling perhaps considers not to be a legitimate assassination, although it appears to fall into his definition of assassination as the killing of a relatively powerful person by a person with less power (“an assassin must kill up and not down to distinguish himself from the common murderer”). Nevertheless, The World’s Assassins belongs on the shelf with other great bathroom books of the age, such as Word Stems and Fowler’s Modern English Usage.

Tags
No items found.

SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU

Dispatches
David Sheskin

PRESS 1 IF

PRESS 1 IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE HEARD THE BIG BANG.

Reviews
April Thompson

Prayer and Declaration

Review of "Monument" by Manahil Bandukwala.

Dispatches
CB Campbell

Joe and Me

Playing against the fastest chess player in the world.