Discussing Terrorism, After 9/11

It has been sixteen years since the Twin Towers collapsed, forever changing the physical and emotional landscape of those who call the United States their home, and those worldwide who stand in solidarity. Today, we remember those we’ve lost. But we also consider the changes that 9/11 has brought, such as it’s impact on democracy, and how we can remind future generations of students and people about what this day means.

Since 9/11, how have our discussions about terrorism, whether it be by individuals or groups, changed? And how do we view other people worldwide in light of what has happened since that day?

Below, we’ve included some recommended reading to help share the continuing conversation on terrorism and its impact on our global society. #neverforget #Sept11th #Remember911

The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 edited by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

“Over its 109 years of existence, these historians [of this edited volume] and their colleagues argue, the Bureau has shaped American religious history through targeted investigations and religiously tinged rhetoric about national security.”—The Atlantic

Hear more about timely lessons for the FBI in the age of Trump. And read a sample chapter from the book.

Terror in the Mind of God, Fourth Edition: The Global Rise of Religious Violence by Mark Juergensmeyer. 

“Juergensmeyer’s work is a sensitive, comparative study of terrorist movements and the religious beliefs that motivate them.”—Washington Post

Read an excerpt regarding Burmese Buddhists and the persecution of Rohingya Muslims. And read a sample chapter from the book.


Constructions of Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Research and Policy edited by Michael Stohl, Richard Burchill, and Scott Howard Englund

“Counter-terrorism would be less counterproductive if policymakers would take heed of their advice.” —Alex P. Schmid, Research Fellow and Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague

And read the introduction from the book.


The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to ISIS, Updated Edition with a New Preface and Final Chapter edited by Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin

“Provides a useful and levelheaded survey of a subject that is regularly misunderstood and often manipulated.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A recommendable book for sociologists, anthropologists and social scientists who are interested by these types of hot topics.”—International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies

Read a sample chapter from the book.

Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan by David B. Edwards 

“Such a beautifully written and imaginative work comes along rarely—at once a deeply felt personal memoir about the author’s anthropological encounters with Afghanistan and a highly original theory about suicide bombing as sacrifice.”—Steven C. Caton, Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies, Harvard University

Read a sample chapter from the book.

A Culture of Conspiracy, 2nd Edition: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America by Michael Barkun

“Ideas, even bizarre and marginalized ideas, do have consequences, and we ignore them at our peril. Barkun’s explorations, like the canary in the coal mine, warn us of what may lie ahead.”—Paul Boyer Christian Century

Read an interview with the author. And read an excerpt from the book.


The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays by Richard Taruskin

“This is one of the most important books about music you’ll read this year. . . . No one has bridged the gap between music scholarship and mainstream media as virtuosically as Taruskin.”—Tom Service The Guardian

Read a sample chapter from the book.

Richard Taruskin Wins 2017 Kyoto Prize

UC Berkeley Department of Music Professor Emeritus Richard Taruskin has been awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize. A notable honor, the Kyoto Prize has long been regarded by many as the most significant award available in fields that are traditionally not honored with a Nobel Prize.


Bestowed annually since 1985 by the Inamori Foundation, the Prize is presented in three categories: Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and the Arts and Philosophy. Taruskin joins prominent scholars to win the award including Noam Chomsky, Jane Goodall, Witold Lutoslawski, and fellow UC Berkeley faculty member Richard Karp.

“The quality and volume of his work reveal that in music, creativity can be found not only in composition and performance, but also in meticulous discourse contextualizing the art.”—Inamori Foundation

A world-renowned musicologist, music historian, and critic Taruskin came to UC Berkeley Music in 1986. Previously he served numerous roles at Columbia University where he earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. While at Columbia he worked as choral conductor and played viola da gamba with the well-known Aulos Ensemble.

UC Press is proud to be the publisher of many of Richard’s books, including the recently-released Russian Music at Home and Abroad. We warmly congratulate him on this significant recognition for his work.

Classical Music Month: An Excerpt from Richard Taruskin’s New Essays on Russian Music

This post is part of a series celebrating #ClassicalMusicMonth. We’re pleased to share the below excerpt from Richard Taruskin’s just-released, Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays. Stay tuned for our final post next week, and enjoy free access to curated Classical Music articles through September.

Taruskin cover
Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays (September 2016)

An excerpt from “NOT MODERN AND LOVING IT” (Chapter 5)

When I was a lad I received a present from my mother, who was a piano teacher (but not my piano teacher; she knew better than that). It was a set of sepia-toned lithographed portraits from G. Schirmer, the main American music publisher of standard and pedagogical piano literature. The portfolio was titled “The Great Composers,” and it started, perhaps needless to say, with J. S. Bach. The others Bs then passed in review, along with Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Wagner, Verdi—the whole crowd. What was surprising was the end-point: the only composer in ordinary modern dress, beardless, wigless, short-haired, altogether contemporary and therefore quite exotic in such surroundings. It was Rachmaninoff, of course, the only composer who was still alive at the time the set was issued. Rachmaninoff, the portrait set quietly insisted, was the last of the Great Composers, the only one left. That made quite an impression on me.

I remembered that ancient gift and the impression it made when it came time, perhaps fifty years later, to frame my account of Rachmaninoff in the Oxford History of Western Music, my attempt, in only six volumes and a mere one and a half million words, to put everything about classical music into a single perspective. As a historian, I saw my task as reportage, not evaluation, still believing that a neutral point of view, if not actually achievable, is nevertheless the thing toward which, asymptotically, one strives. Whether I myself agreed with the value G. Schirmer had claimed for Rachmaninoff was, I assumed, of no interest to my readers, who would be seeking from me the information they would need to reach their own informed judgments. As a reader I always cherished this right and resented historians who tried to usurp it. What the historian owes the reader is a just account of historical significance, an account that should originate in observation, not predilection. For me to say “Rachmaninoff was the last of the great composers” would have been absurd; and it would have been equally absurd for me to say that he was not. And yet, needless to say, reportage and evaluation are not so neatly separable. The act of selection—of choosing what shall be reported—is implicitly, and inescapably, evaluative; and evaluation is implicitly, and inescapably, contentious.

My solution to this dilemma, or at least the criterion of relevance I sought to apply to the task of selection, was to ask myself always what was the necessary contribution of this figure or that fact to the story as a whole. And here is where that old set of sepia prints gave me the answer. “There were many,” I wrote, “during the 1920s and 1930s, who regarded [Rachmaninoff] as the greatest living composer, precisely because he was the only one who seemed capable of successfully maintaining the familiar and prestigious style of the nineteenth-century ‘classics’ into the twentieth century.” I congratulated myself when I came up with that sentence, because it reported the fact that Rachmaninoff was widely regarded as great, and it also signaled his unusualness within the stylistic spectrum of his day, even hinting that his role was an embattled one. Rachmaninoff, I concluded, was “the most effective antimodernist standard bearer.” The fact that he was both antimodernist and successful, I continued, “and that his style was as distinctive as any contemporary’s, could be used to refute the modernist argument that traditional styles had been exhausted.”

In the mood for some classical music now? Listen to Sergei Rachmaninoff play his Piano Concerto No. 2. This selection was recorded in 1929 by RCA victor with Rachmaninoff’s favorite orchestra; the Philadelphia Orchestra. Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) is conducting.

To read more by Richard Taruskin, see his recent article, “Was Shostakovich a Martyr? Or Is That Just Fiction?,” in the New York Times, or a recent book review in the Times Literary Supplement.

To get your own copy of his new book, check your local bookstore, or purchase online at IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

Richard Taruskin is the Class of 1955 Professor of Music emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1987 to 2014, after twenty-six years at Columbia University (man and boy). He is the author of Stravinsky and the Russian TraditionsOn Russian Music, Defining Russia Musically, and the six-volume Oxford History of Western Music.