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Reuter, Christoph 1968-

Reuter, Christoph 1968-


Born 1968.


Stern (magazine), Hamburg, Germany, reporter and international correspondent.


(With Irmtraud Seebold) Medien und Meinungsfreiheit in Palástina (title means "Media and Free Speech in Palestine"), Deutsches Orient-Institut (Hamburg, Germany), 2000.

Mein Leben ist eine Waffe, Bertelsmann (Munich, Germany), 2002, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby as My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.


Journalist Christoph Reuter was born in 1968. He has worked for the German magazine Stern as a reporter and international correspondent. His first book, Medien und Meinungsfreiheit in Palástina, a German-language edition about the media and free speech in Palestine, was published in 2000. Two years later, Reuter released his second book, Mein Leben ist eine Waffe. In 2004, the book was translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby as My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing.

During his research for My Life Is a Weapon, Reuter spent eight years in the Middle East interviewing members of Lebanon's Hizballah, a Palestinian militant group, and the Sri Lankan Tamils. Reuter predominantly focuses on Muslim militants and how various interpretations of the Quran can be manipulated to persuade followers to become suicide bombers. Reuter makes it clear that there is nothing explicit in the Quran regarding suicide missions. The book includes first-person narratives taken from the people Reuter interviewed. He also shows how the phenomenon of suicide bombing began and spread, tracing the political, cultural, and historical factors responsible. Nine chapters in length, the book is both a journalistic and sociological endeavor.

Given the topical nature of Reuter's My Life Is a Weapon, the book was widely reviewed. Many critics had positive opinions of the work. However, some critics noted that the book was originally written for a European audience, thus taking a different tone than many Americans might expect. For instance, Youssef Aboul-Enein, critiquing the work in the Military Review, observed that "although some Americans might disagree with Reuter's European point of view, his book is recommended to enhance the awareness of suicide bombing." Aboul-Enein further noted that "Reuter challenges the assumption that suicide bombers fit into a neat, typical profile." Another positive assessment of the book came from Jane Adas, writing in the Christian Century. Adas credited Reuter with chronicling the "humanizing personal stories of people living under repression and injustice," and commented that "this insightful, sensitively written book deserves a wide audience." Discussing Reuter's examination of why suicide bombing is attractive to some communities, Adas stated: "Reuter delineates the very real grievances of the communities involved." Adas then added that Reuter shows how "massive military reprisals only increase al-Qaeda's appeal and are used to justify further suicide bombings," leading readers to the conclusion that "to wage war on terrorism is therefore not the solution."

Like Adas, several critics commented on Reuter's unique arguments. For instance, Australian Review of Public Affairs contributor Geoff Dean felt that "Reuter's research on suicide bombing challenges us to rethink our ‘mad/bad’ response to the mindset behind a human bomb. He argues that it is too easy to see suicide bombing as just the work of ‘crazy fanatics.’" Because of this, "Reuter debunks such myths by providing well documented qualitative data." Concluding his review of My Life Is a Weapon, Dean observed: "People may find Reuter's work unsettling because he seeks to understand this terrifying phenomenon rather than pass quick judgment on those who engage in it. His findings, if not his solution for military restraint and patience, are consistent with what other scholars have found and so demand serious reflection." Although London Telegraph critic Amir Taheri called the book "a series of unconnected travelogues, journalistic pub talk, feuilletons, mini-essays, and impressionistic reportages," he did note that "Reuter's book is full of pertinent observations and nuggets of useful information." Taheri observed that "the real issue is whether or not those targeted by suicide-killings are prepared to retaliate with a higher degree of violence that would reverse the cost-benefit ratio in their favour and thus persuade their foes to abandon the human body as a weapon," concluding that "Reuter poses this crucial question in an intelligent way."



Australian Review of Public Affairs, July 19, 2004, Geoff Dean, "Suicide Bombers as Weapons of Mass Terror."

Christian Century, September 21, 2004, Jane Adas, review of My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing, p. 44.

International Affairs, October 1, 2005, "Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror," p. 1127.

International Journal, June 22, 2005, Mark Yaniszewski, review of My Life Is a Weapon, p. 893.

Military Review, March 1, 2006, Youssef Aboul-Enein, review of My Life Is a Weapon.

Telegraph (London, England), June 20, 2004, Amir Taheri, review of My Life Is a Weapon.

Times Literary Supplement, September 6, 2002, "Life as a Weapon: The Twisted History of the Suicide Terrorist," p. 3.

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