Psychology Behind Assassins, Terrorists, Conspiracies Focus of FSU Professor’s Book

Nov 11, 2020 9:00 AM

Frostburg State University’s Dr. Scott Johnson, a professor of political science, dives into the psychology behind some of America’s most heinous criminals in his new book, “Political Assassins, Terrorists and Related Conspiracies in American History,” being released this month.

Johnson’s book is about how political assassinations and terrorism have outraged and fascinated the public throughout American history, particularly in the modern era. The book provides biographical summaries of more than 100 assassins and terrorists, offering a more complete understanding of the motivations behind violent extremism.

Johnson says that he initially developed a strong interest in the Kennedy assassination while he was in college. At FSU, he inherited a political science course from another professor where he deepened his knowledge on the psychology of assassins. Eventually with the materials from the class, he created his own interdisciplinary course, American Political Assassins.

“Students have really enjoyed the course, and it is my favorite course to teach,” Johnson said.

Now, after teaching the course for seven years, he realized he had gathered enough material for a book.

Robert M. Alexander, founding director of the Ohio Northern Institute for Civic and Public Policy, wrote in review of the book, “Readers will be hard-pressed to find a more exhaustive study than Johnson’s work examining many of the most notorious acts in American history. Providing theory and context for countless violent plots aimed to affect American politics, this work is a must-read for those interested in fringe activities in the United States.”

“Political Assassins, Terrorists and Related Conspiracies in American History” releases on Nov. 16 and is available for pre-order now.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit the FSU web site or the FSU Facebook page. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.