Samir El-youssef in The Guardian:
Contrary to the views of those who see suicide missions as some sort of dark ritual, or those who dismiss them as irrationally criminal actions, the authors show us that they are often the result of cold calculations. For one thing, they are more effective than the non-suicidal forms of political violence which those same groups themselves have carried out. According to one contributor, Luca Ricolfi, writing on “Palestinians 1981-2003”, suicide attacks had “10 to 15 times the destructive power of ordinary terrorist attacks”. Yet they are not only meant to be instrumental actions, but symbolic too, and sometimes both at the same time. The Japanese army and the Tamil Tigers aimed at achieving military victory, while 9/11 could be seen as more symbolic than instrumental. As for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they have had many different aims: fighting military occupation, showing an extreme level of commitment to their cause and destroying the peace process in order to regain their former place at the centre of Palestinian politics.