Jessica Stern on Terror, Trauma and Memory

Jessica Stern is a top interpreter of terrorism. Now, she’s sharing the painful connection between her career choice and her personal life.

Jessica with Lt. Paul Macone, the detective who solved a cold, hard case in "Denial".

Jessica with Lt. Paul Macone, the detective who solved a cold, hard case in "Denial".

Jessica Stern is one of the country’s leading experts on terrorism and the way terrorists think. To learn their motivations, she’s gone face-to-face in deep danger zones with terrorists of many stripes: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, anti-abortion zealots, followers of Timothy McVeigh. 

She’s advised the White House, sat on high councils of national security. 

Now, Jessica Stern is telling the story of her first encounter with terror. Rape. Her own. At gunpoint. At age 15. 

This Hour, On Point: In the personal roots of terror, with a top American interpreter of terrorism.


Jessica Stern, lecturer at Harvard University and a member of the Hoover Institute Task Force on National Security and Law. She served as a staff member at the National Security Council in the Clinton Administration, where she was responsible for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear smuggling and terrorism. She is the author of the New York Times Notable Book “Terror in the Name of God” and “The Ultimate Terrorists.” Her new book, “Denial: A Memoir of Terror,” recounts her own unsolved sexual assault by a serial rapist when she was 15 years old.

Read an excerpt of Jessica Stern’s new book, “Denial.”

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