Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the evolution of chemical and mechanical weapons used by terrorists between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, ranging from the diabolical contraptions of “infernal machines” to dynamite, the terrorist’s favorite explosive, invented by Alfred Nobel in the 1860s. The chapter also explores the ingenuity of terror. While anarchists and revolutionaries who used explosive chemicals are often represented as merely consumers of the latest scientific creations, the chapter argues that in fact these communities showed considerable ingenuity in devising new weapons. A brief case study of the career of Irish nationalist Robert Emmet’s rockets in the pre-dynamite era demonstrates this. The chapter concludes by considering the relationship of terror and science, and contrasts the radical political views of terrorists with their typically unchallenging acceptance of scientific authority and opinions in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: explosives, dynamite, science, technology, ingenuity, weapons, infernal machines, rockets, Robert Emmet

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.