Book review: Age of Assassins, By Michael Newton

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From Lincoln to Lennon, Newton's history of "the decline of the Western assassin" also serves as a shrewd meditation on violence and its allure.

He traces a long curve down from the idealism, however fanatical, of Nihilists or nationalists to the celebrity-fixated killers for whom hunting stellar targets meant "murder wrapped in fame".

For all its insight, plus sleek narrative as despots, generals or presidents fall, great moral weariness overhangs the book. With the assassin's cult, "not just madness but idiocy itself intrudes into history".