A History of Political Murder

Jonathan Meades in Literary Review:

Assassination signifies the taking of life. So, obviously, does murder. They are not, however, synonymous. Assassination is planned. It most probably involves an ambush or trap, and before that high-level debates and decisions made in meetings, which typically are not minuted. Murder doesn’t generally involve such things. Assassinations are intended. They are tactical instruments and tools – if not also proxies – of war. They are, equally, evasions of war and bulwarks against tyranny. Michael Burleigh is dubious about the beneficial effects of governmentally sanctioned killing. However, a perhaps unforeseen outcome of his relentlessly sanguinary book is the implication that the planet, far from being sullied by opérations ponctuelles, might be a happier place were a few more tyrants to be treated to well-aimed headshots. There can, for instance, be no doubt that had Benito Mussolini been shot and strung up in Piazzale Loreto a few years earlier than he was, he would not have bought a road map to catastrophe from Adolf Hitler.

More here.