American Zealots: Inside Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism

Arie Perliger (Author)


In an unsettling time in American history, the outbreak of right-wing violence is among the most disturbing developments. In recent years, attacks originating from the far right of American politics have targeted religious and ethnic minorities, with a series of antigovernment militants, religious extremists, and lone-wolf mass shooters inspired by right-wing ideologies. The need to understand the nature and danger of far-right violence is greater than ever.

In American Zealots, Arie Perliger provides a wide-ranging and rigorously researched overview of right-wing domestic terrorism. He analyzes its historical roots, characteristics, tactics, rhetoric, and organization, assessing the current and future trajectory of the use of violence by the far right. Perliger draws on a comprehensive dataset of more than 5,000 attacks and their perpetrators from 1990 through 2017 in order to explore key trends in American right-wing terrorism. He describes the entire ideological spectrum of the American far right, including today's white supremacists, antigovernment groups, and antiabortion fundamentalists, as well as the histories of the KKK, skinheads, and neo-Nazis. Based on these findings, Perliger suggests counterterrorism policies that can respond effectively to the far-right threat. A groundbreaking examination of violence spawned from right-wing ideologies, American Zealots is essential reading for everyone seeking to understand the transformation of domestic terrorism.

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
August 18, 2020
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.9 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Arie Perliger is professor and director of the graduate program in security studies at the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His many publications on political violence include Jewish Terrorism in Israel (Columbia, 2009).


American Zealots is an immensely timely and important publication. Written by one of this country's foremost authorities on far-right extremist violence, it provides a comprehensive analysis of this movement's evolution and trajectory and its implications for American society and politics.--Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism
With unparalleled expertise, Arie Perliger makes sense of the complicated and contentious reality of domestic right-wing terrorism. His explanation of the complexities, deep historical roots, and ideological diversity of the threat is clear and dispassionate. His conclusions are all the more important in being bluntly realistic: there is unlikely to be a decline in right-wing violence unless we devise a wide-ranging public policy response.--Martha Crenshaw, Stanford University
At a time when both DHS and the FBI have underlined the threat posed from the radical right, Arie Perliger's American Zealots is a comprehensive and comparative study of Right Wing terrorism that sheds light on how the movement emerged, grew within the US military, and our society to become the center of current domestic political debates. Using original data that he collected, the book is anchored in rigorous empirical evidence to explain how we got here and identify the path forward.--Mia Bloom, author of Small Arms: Children and Terrorism