Saturday 04 April 2020
The Price of Paradise

OKS Iain Overton (BR 1986-1991) talks to us about his latest book. 

We live in the age of the suicide bomber. From attacks in the streets of Paris and London to murders in marketplaces in Kabul and Baghdad, the suicide bomber is a weapon of mass destruction, harming over a quarter of a million people since its first use – many in the last decade.But what leads men and women to blow themselves up, believing they will usher in a Utopia they’ll never inhabit? How did modern jihadists come to adopt its use?  And what part did suicide bombings play in the rise of communism, the nuclear age, and the seemingly endless, global war on terror?   These questions have led Iain Overton (BH, 1986 - 1991) on a journey from the austere streets of St Petersburg to Shinto temples of Japan, the killing fields of Sri Lanka to Hamas-enclaves in Palestine, to trace the origins of the modern-day suicide bomber.  Along the way, he met survivors, medics, veterans and intelligence agents, along with face-to-face encounters with suicide bombers whose missions have failed.  The book from these travels - The Price of Paradise: how the suicide bomber shaped the modern world (Quercus) - reveals not only what drives zealots to blow themselves up, but how their actions have shaped our modern world in ways we never imagined. 

Speaking to us, Iain said: ‘I certainly felt the ghosts of my own history lessons with Dr Maltby peering over my shoulder when writing this book. The notion of sacrifice for the virtues of a revolution were laid down during the French Revolution, and the terror that engulfed France thereafter - something that has framed the suicide bomber’s actions, from Russia to Iran, Afghanistan to New York ever since.  At King’s I was driven by two things: a love of history and being part of the CCF.  I guess my lifelong relationship with the past and conflict, one where I have been to over 25 war zones, continues.'

His book has been described by the Times’ war correspondent Anthony Lloyd as ‘truly exceptional’, and an 'exceptional piece of work’ by C4 anchor Jon Snow.  It is available  here .

OKS Iain Overton's (BR 1986-1991) latest book, The Price of Paradise: How the Suicide Bomber shaped the Modern Age is out now! 

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