top of page
The Smarter Bomb_C1.jpg

THE SMARTER BOMB: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers

Anat Berko

Nonfiction, 2010

(Preface by Professor Daniel Pipes)

A candid and unique glimpse into the world of suicide bombers, especially women and children, and those who recruit and dispatch them. Dr. Anat Berko had access to Israel’s highest-security prisons, where she was able to speak intimately with terrorists and their accomplices. She met with female and adolescent would-be suicide bombers and their dispatchers, lawyers and interrogators. This book looks at the psychological, cultural and social conditions which lead to terrorist activity. Berko’s compelling account is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the interior world of suicide bombers, and how to negotiate with terrorists.

Rights Sold:

Israel, Miskal; USA, Rowman & Littlefield


“Dr. Berko’s chilling analysis of the phenomenon of Palestinian women and children forced by societal factors to become suicide bombers, for lack of any other options, makes for riveting reading.” – Henry A. Kissinger

“Berko . . . has been given unprecedented access to numerous terrorists and would-be terrorists in the country’s prisons, and she has apparently won their trust. In interview after interview, men and women open up to her and relate the most intimate details about the phenomenon of female suicide attacks against Israel during the second intifada. . . . Her book is full of fascinating stories and insights precisely because she lets the people speak for themselves. . . . This remains one of the most interesting studies on terrorism to have been produced in recent years.” – The Jerusalem Post

“[Readers] will benefit from the wealth of personal, cultural and operational details revealed by such firsthand field work. . . . For the light it sheds on Palestinian society and how its most vulnerable are exploited, The Smarter Bomb is highly recommended.” – The Washington Times

“Based on years of interviews with Palestinian leaders, the book attempts to answer the question: are women smart bombs or stupid ones? Mainly, Berko finds, they are desperate ones. Arab cultural attitudes about women directly influence terrorist attitudes toward the use of female suicide bombers. Male handlers often exploit women bombers sexually, and then use that exploitation and associated shame to both motivate and intimidate the women to bomb. Berko further reveals that terrorist leaders use female bombers only reluctantly, and that women bombers actually decrease their standing in Arab society because effective female suicide bombers challenge the cultural norm of male dominance.” – Publishers Weekly

“The fruits of [Berko's] labor have not only contributed to a better understanding of the issue, but have already become life-saving factors in the constant struggle against terror.” – Ephraim Halevy, former Director of the Mossad

“This book is a remarkable contribution to explaining the unexplainable, to understanding the inexplicable. It takes us to the next level of scholarship about suicide bombers who are not men, but rather are increasingly women and children. Anat Berko helps us to see through their eyes, to think as they think, to feel their hearts beat in their chests as they prepare to push the button.” – Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President Emeritus, George Washington University

“A gifted interviewer, Berko’s book overflows with rich and riveting material.” –  Jerrold M. Post, George Washington University; author of The Mind of the Terrorist

“The exclusive interviews with the women, as well as the face-to-face meetings with Hamas and Islamic leaders, offer a unique insight into the world of terrorism.” –  Khaled Abu Toameh, veteran reporter and commentator on Palestinian affairs and correspondent, The Jerusalem Post

“[Berko's] work is not only fascinating but also makes for vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the sources of the new terrorism that the world has been facing since 9/11.” – Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations

bottom of page