Cover image for The Assassins : a radical sect in Islam
The Assassins : a radical sect in Islam
Lewis, Bernard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2003]
Physical Description:
xiii, 166 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 21 cm
General Note:
"First published in Great Britain in 1967 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London"--T.p. verso.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP195.A8 L4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From a master historian, the definitive account of history's first terrorists
An offshoot of the Ismaili Shi'ite sect of Islam, the Assassins were the first group to make systematic use of murder as a political weapon. Established in Iran and Syria in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, they aimed to overthrow the existing Sunni order in Islam and replace it with their own. They terrorized their foes with a series of dramatic murders of Islamic leaders, as well as of some of the Crusaders, who brought their name and fame back to Europe.Professor Lewis traces the history of this radical group, studying its teachings and its influence on Muslim thought. Particularly insightful in light of the rise of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. and in Israel, this account of the Assassins--whose name is now synonymous with politically motivated murderers--places recent events in historical perspective and sheds new light on the fanatic mind.

Author Notes

Bernard Lewis was born in London, England on May 31, 1916. He graduated with honors in history from the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London in 1936 with special reference to the Middle East. In 1938, he was named an assistant lecturer at the University of London, where he received a Ph.D. the next year. In 1940, he was drafted into the British armed forces and assigned to the Army tank corps. He was soon transferred to intelligence. He taught at the University of London for 25 years.

In 1974, he accepted joint appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and Princeton University. He also taught at Cornell from 1984 to 1990. He became an American citizen in 1982. He was a scholar of Middle Eastern history and a prolific writer. His books included The Emergence of Modern Turkey, What Went Wrong?: The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Because he was considered an expert on interactions between the Christian and Islamic worlds, his view helped shape American foreign policy under President George W. Bush. He died on May 19, 2018 at the age of 101.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Preface to the 2003 Editionp. x
1 The Discovery of the Assassinsp. 1
2 The Ismailisp. 20
3 The New Preachingp. 38
4 The Mission in Persiap. 64
5 The Old Man of the Mountainp. 97
6 Means and Endsp. 125
Notesp. 141
Indexp. 161