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Counterterrorism Bookshelf: 22 Books on Terrorism & Counter-terrorism Related Subjects

by Joshua Sinai

This column consists of two parts: capsule reviews of books published by various publishers, and, continuing the series begun in previous columns, highlighting books by publishers with significant publishing programs in terrorism & counterterrorism-related studies (with the authors listed in alphabetical order). Please note that most of these books were recently published, with several published over the past several years but deserving renewed interest.


Sarah Miller Beebe and Randolph H. Pherson, Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action.[Second Edition] Los Angeles, CA: CQ Press/SAGE, 2014. 395 pages, US $ 60.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4833-4016-6.

This comprehensive handbook applies more than 25 structured analytic techniques (SATs) that are employed in intelligence analysis to 17 case studies, in order to provide analysts with practice in using them against real world problems. This framework is outlined in a matrix of techniques in the book’s opening pages, with the SATs broken down into eight categories of decomposition and visualization, idea generation, scenarios and indicators, hypothesis generation and testing, assessment of cause and effect, challenge analysis, and decision support. The 17 case studies include significant intelligence- and terrorism-related historical cases (some of a hypothetical nature) such as analyzing the identity of the fall 2001 anthrax killer, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the summer 1996 Atlantic Olympics bomber, the October 2002 DC sniper shootings, potential FARC attacks against the United States, the November 2008 terrorist attacks against Mumbai, India, and other cases of politically inspired violence. Each case study consists of a narrative, discussion questions, analytic exercises, and recommended readings. Originally published in 2011, this second edition features new cases and analytic techniques. Although primarily intended for intelligence analysts, this handbook’s presentation of structured analytic techniques will also prove highly useful for students, educators and other practitioners in terrorism and counterterrorism studies. The authors, based in the Washington, DC region, are prominent private sector experts in training intelligence analysts in these techniques.

Artur Beifuss and Francesco Trivini Bellini, Branding Terror: The Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations. London and New York: Merrell Publishers, 2013. 336 pages, US $ 34.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-8589-4601-6.

An original and innovative account of how terrorist groups employ visual elements in the form of distinct logos, flags and other imagery to market their ‘brand identities,’ and, as described by the authors, just like corporations and political organizations “to stand out in a highly competitive sector, or even to mark a claimed territory” (p. 11). Since visual identity is the book’s focus, only terrorist groups that have a distinct logo or flag are discussed, with such imagery located in open sources, such as a group’s website or video. For each of the 65 terrorist groups listed in the book (which are drawn from lists of designated terrorist groups established by major governments), the authors provide an overview of its ideology, geographical location, history, and an analysis of the imagery it employs. This handbook is a valuable contribution to the literature on terrorist groups, particularly in understanding how they go about using their distinct logos and flags to market themselves to their members, supporting constituencies, and even their targeted adversaries. Artur Beifuss is a journalist and former United Nations counterterrorism analyst, and Francesco Trivini Beilini is a creative director who has developed branding identities of companies and cultural institutions.

Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014. 344 pages, US $ 45.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4766-1495-3.

A richly comprehensive and extensively footnoted account of the interaction between the global Jihadist/Islamist revolutionary movement’s propagation of what the author terms the “jihadist method” as well as its material support to the nationalist and Islamic extremists in Chechnya and the Caucasus since the mid-1990s. To examine this interaction, the chapters cover topics such as Jihadization and the Caucasus Emirate (CE), the nature of the CE’s leadership, organization and religious ideology, the CE’s terrorist operations, and the CE’s operational expansion into other regional conflicts—beyond its primary state adversary, Russia—such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Syria and Europe. The author’s discussion (pages 232-246) of the CE’s “direct inspiration” – and even operational cooperation – with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, is especially interesting for its highly detailed information about their interaction. His conclusion is also pertinent, as he writes that “the attack on Boston was the first such plot to be successful.” (p. 246). The concluding chapter places the CE in its comparative and theoretical context.  

Bruce Hoffman and Fernando Reinares (Eds.),  The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 To Osama Bin Laden’s Death. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2014. 696 pages, US $ 45.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-231-16898-4.

This book’s objective, as described by the editors, is to provide answers to one of the primary disagreements in counterterrorism circles, whether in academia or government, “over the nature of the [terrorist] threat, al-Qaeda itself, bin Laden’s authority over the movement after its expulsion from Afghanistan, and whether or not a leaderless process of terrorist radicalization and violence has superseded a leader-led one.” (p. ix) Moreover, as the editors add, their objective was to examine the thesis (as famously expounded by Marc Sageman’s “bunch of guys” theory of leaderless jihad) that “The main terrorist threat, [as] some claimed, no longer came from distinct jihadist groups and organizations but rather from independent, self-constituted local cells or from isolated, self-recruited individuals.” (p. x) To accomplish these objectives – which is the first time that such an undertaking has been achieved in a book of such comprehensiveness and length – the two editors and 26 other contributors attempted to answer these questions in 24 cases where al Qaeda and its affiliates were implicated in those attacks. These cases include the November 2002 Mombasa attacks in Kenya, the March 2004 Madrid train bombings, the aborted March 2004 Operation Crevice plot in London, the 2006 plot by the “Toronto 18”,  the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the July 2010 attacks in Kampala, Uganda.

Based on these case studies, the editors conclude that while al-Qaeda “remained a clearly defined and active terrorist organization with an identifiable leadership and chain of command” and “embraced a goal-oriented strategy,” global jihadism had become a “polymorphous phenomenon – not an amorphous one,” and had become “transformed into a dynamically heterogeneous collection of both radicalized individuals and functioning terrorist organizations” (p. 618). Most importantly in terms of challenging the leaderless jihad thesis, the editors find that although “Command and control of these entities was uneven…the al-Qaeda senior leadership nonetheless appeared to have had a direct hand in the most important and potentially high-payoff operations” (p. 618).

Finally, in terms of the evolving global terrorism threat by these “variegated jihadist actors,” the editors find them “adhering to a shared ideology and a common mind-set serving and respecting the same preeminent leader – Osama bin Laden” (p. 619).

With current events in Syria and Iraq, particularly the emergence of the non-al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State (IS) as the primary jihadi insurgent organization in that region, adding fuel to the debate over the role and influence of al Qaeda “Central” and its affiliates in spearheading al- Qaeda-type insurgencies around the world, this edited volume is an indispensable reference resource for understanding the issues that need to be examined in evaluating al Qaeda’s current threat potential.      

Richard Bach Jensen, The Battle Against Anarchist Terrorism: An International History, 1878-1934. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 424 pages, US $ 99.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1107034051.

This is a highly detailed and comprehensive account of how the governments of Europe (including Russia) and the United States countered anarchist terrorist groupings operating in their societies, during the formative early period of modern terrorism when such groups represented the primary type of terrorist threats against them. The book’s chapters analyze the origins and activities of anarchist terrorism, as well as how the threatened governments cooperated in countering these threats. In the final chapter, “The Decline of Anarchist Terrorism, 1900-1930s,” the author concludes that in addition to the success of Western security services in reducing the capability of the anarchist groups to continue their violent campaigns, another factor causing the decline of anarchist terrorism (citing the historian David C. Rapoport, who also wrote the book’s Foreword) was that “after World War I a new, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist era in the history of terrorism developed and increasingly displaced anarchist terrorism” (p. 358). The author is Professor of History at the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University in Nachitoches, Louisiana.  

Fred Kaplan, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2014. 432 pages, US $ 16.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4516-4265.

A fascinating journalistic account (first published in 2013) of how, beginning in 2004, a small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petreaus, Colonel John Nagl, and other national security academics, were instrumental in introducing a more comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy into the U.S. military’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was formalized in the publication of the  FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency field manual and published in December 2006. The book is also valuable for its overview of how the doctrine of counterinsurgency had evolved since the Second World War. With the current jihadi insurgencies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere still requiring countermeasures that draw on military and ‘nation-building’ components, the insights contained in this book are still highly pertinent.

Ian Morris, War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization From Primates To Robots. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014. 512 pages, US $ 30.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0374286000.

A well-written and comprehensive account of more than fifteen thousand years of warfare around the world and its impact on the evolution of civilization. Of particular interest is the author’s account of terrorist warfare, which he discusses in a brief section on the impact of the terrorist assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914, in ushering in the First World War, a longer section on an evaluation of the impact of al-Qaeda’s terrorist warfare in achieving its objectives, as well as an assessment of the effectiveness of the U.S. counterterrorism campaign against it, and the emerging role of robotic drones in counterterrorism. The author’s conclusion, based on a famous Roman proverb, is  worth reiterating : “If you want peace, prepare for war” (p. 393). The author is a Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University.

Gary Noesner, Stalling For Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. New York, NY: Random House, 2010. 240 pages, US $ 26.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1400067251.

A personal account by a retired head of the FBI’s hostage Crisis Negotiation Uni, recalling famous hostage standoff crises his unit had attempted to defuse. These hostage crises, which are fully detailed, included the June 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 out of Athens, Greece, by Lebanese terrorists; the October 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in the Mediterranean Sea; the February 1993 standoff by the religious cult led by David Koresh, near Waco, Texas; the June 1996 standoff with the Montana Freemen, a Christian Patriot movement, in Jordan, Montana, who opposed any government authority over them; the April 1997 standoff with far-right separatists in Texas; and the May 2001 hostage taking by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) of American missionaries (and others) in the Philippines. The author was also involved as head of the Crisis Negotiation Unit within the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group in tracking what became known as the “DC Sniper” incidents in October 2002. Mr. Noesner’s conclusions are highly relevant for the current era, with terrorist groups extensively employing the tactic of hostage taking in their warfare, as he notes that while he generally favors the primacy of the negotiation approach in resolving hostage standoff incidents, it is important to track the progress of such efforts because there are times when “when the risks increase” and “negotiation isn’t enough.” (pp. 215-216)

Anita Shapira, Israel: A History. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2014. 528 pages, US $ 29.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-61168-618-0.

A sweeping, comprehensive account of the origins of the state of Israel from its pre-state beginnings in 1881, its establishment as an independent state in 1948, and more recent political developments in the state. Although the author’s discussion ends in 2000 (it was initially published in English in 2012), thus making the account dated, it nevertheless provides a valuable understanding of political trends that are playing out today, particularly the increasing religious militancy by right-wing Jewish elements in the 1980s and 1990s who advocated obeying rabbinical orders “on worldly matters such as the evacuation of territories – thus blurring the separation that had existed in religious Zionism since the 1920s between the sacred, which was the rabbis’ domain, and the profane, the domain of secular leaders, i.e., politicians” (p. 402). It is such insights that make this book indispensable for understanding the historical trends that have converged to produce the turbulent state of modern-day Israel. The author, one of Israel’s leading historians, is a professor emerita at Tel Aviv University.

Dan Smith, The Penguin State of the World Atlas [Completely Revised and Updated Ninth Edition]. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2012. 144 pages, US $ 22.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0143122654.

This atlas is a comprehensive visual representation of significant key indicators and statistics that characterize modern societies, such as urbanization, wealth and poverty, food and water, goals for development, energy resources and consumption, global warming and biodiversity, literacy, gender equality, pandemics, wars and peacekeeping, and cyber warfare. Although all of these topics affect terrorism-driven conflicts to some extent, of particular interest is the atlas’s section on war and peace, which discusses the nature of wars in the 21st century, the roles of warlords, gang-lords and militias, the new front line in cyber-warfare, data on casualties of wars (including terrorist conflicts), and the spread of refugees due to such conflicts. In one of the author’s numerous insights he notes that “The effects of war are long lasting. An average of 30 years of economic growth is lost through a civil war, and the country’s international trade takes on average 20 years to recover. People who might otherwise have grown up healthy are born into poverty, malnutrition, and ill health. And one effect of war is war itself; 90 percent of contemporary armed conflicts are old conflicts coming back.” (p. 66)

Werner G.K. Stritzke, Stephan Lewandowsky, David Denemark, Joseph Clare, and Frank Morgan (Eds.), Terrorism and Torture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 368 pages, US$ 44.99 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1107412514.

The contributors to this edited volume apply a multidisciplinary approach to comprehensively examine the motivations of those who become terrorists to resort to such warfare tactics, the nature of terrorist warfare vis-à-vis the prohibition against attacks on noncombatant civilians, the types of counterterrorism campaigns being waged by governments against their terrorist adversaries, the use of torture by governments to extract information from terrorist suspects, and techniques for effective counterterrorism measures, such as reducing the risk of terrorism by “integrating jurisdictional and opportunity approaches” (i.e., “simultaneously (1) taking a society-wide psychological/sociological approach to lowering general support for terrorism, and (2) implementing ongoing situational strategies to reduce terrorist opportunity” (p. 326) This book will undoubtedly be of renewed interest given the controversy surrounding the December 2014 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on several of these topics.

Juan C. Zarate, Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare. New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2013. 512 pages, US $ 29.99 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1610391153.

A personal account by a former high-level U.S. government official in the Treasury Department and the White House of how he and his colleagues succeeded in implementing new measures and tools to apply financial pressure against the country’s terrorist adversaries (as well as state proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, such as North Korea and Iran). The insights provided by the author’s account make this book valuable for those seeking to understand how the financial component of counter-terrorism plays such a crucial part in undermining the capability of terrorist groups to function.

The Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2014. 320 pages, US$ 23.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-61091-541-0.

This volume’s primary objective is to analyze problems in political and economic systems around the world, and suggest opportunities to improve governance, locally and globally (with these volumes updated on an annual basis). What makes this handbook especially relevant for terrorism and counterterrorism studies – and particularly the analysis of root causes of terrorism – is its focus on how new grassroots movements are continuously emerging, which are part of “a broader phenomenon of spreading popular protests driven by a range of grievances and demands – irrespective of the political governance system in question” (p. 16). In fact, as the volume’s editors point out, “A recent study analyzing 843 protests between January 2006 and July 2013 in 87 countries found a steady increase in protests from 59 in 2006 to 112 during just the first half of 2013. Many of the protests – ranging from marches and rallies to acts of civil disobedience – involve issues that are of relevance to a more sustainable and equitable society. The lack of ‘real democracy’ is a major motivating factor and is seen as an underlying reason for the lack of economic and environmental justice” (p. 16).


Publications from Oxford University Press

Charles Boix and Susan C. Stokes (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009. 1021 pages, US $ 55.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0199566020.

A comprehensive overview of the discipline of comparative politics, covering the general categories of theory and methodology, states, state formation, and political consent, political  regimes and transitions, political instability and political conflict, mass political mobilization, processing political demands, and governance in comparative perspective. Although some of the topics are esoteric, such as Chapter 2, “Multicausality, Context-Conditionality, and Endogeneity,” Chapter 3, “Rethinking Revolution: a Neo-Tocquevillian Perspective,” and Chapter 34, “Context-Conditional Political Budget Cycles,” many chapters are highly pertinent to terrorism and counterterrorism studies. Of particular interest are Chapter 4, “The Case Study: What it is and What it Does,” Chapter 5, “Field Research,” Chapter 8, “Collective Action Theory,” Chapter 11, “National Identity,” Chapter 12, “Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict,” Chapter 16, “Dictatorship: Analytical Approaches,” Chapter 18, “Civil Wars,” Chapter 19, “Contentious Politics and Social Movements,” Chapter 20, “Mechanisms of Globalized Protest Movements,” and Chapter 37, “Accountability and the Survival of Governments.”      

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry F. Brady, and David Collier Eds.)  The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. 880 pages, US $ 55.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0199585564.

With the discipline of terrorism and counterterrorism studies increasingly drawing on computational social science methodologies in constructing terrorism incident databases, employing link analysis and social network analysis mapping of terrorist networks and associations, as well as mining databases to generate insight on terrorists’ activities, this handbook’s comprehensive overview of the discipline of political methodology will be of special interest to those who employ such qualitative and quantitative methodologies in their work. The handbook is divided into nine parts: introduction, approaches to social science methodology, concepts and measurement, causality and explanation in social research, experiments, quasi-experiments and natural experiments, quantitative and qualitative tools, and organizations, institutions, and movements in the field of methodology. Of special interest are Chapter 4, “Agent-based Modeling,” Chapter 5, “Concepts, Theories, and Numbers: A Checklist for Constructing, Evaluating , and Using Concepts or Quantitative Measures,” Chapter 6, “Measurement,” Chapter 7, “Typologies, Forming Concepts and Creating Categorical Variables,” Chapter 10, “Causation and Explanation in Social Science,” Chapter 16, “Survey Methodology,” Chapter 19, “Time-series Analysis,” Chapter 21, “Bayesian Analysis,” Chapter 27, “Counterfactuals and Case Studies,” Chapter 29, “Interviewing and Qualitative Field Methods: Pragmatism and Practicalities,” “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Methods,” and Chapter 36, “Forty years of Publishing in Quantitative Methodology.” 

Robert E. Goodin (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. 1291 pages, US $ 60.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0199604456.

A comprehensive overview of the discipline of political science, covering the general categories of political theory, political institutions, law and politics, political behavior, contextual political analysis, comparative politics, international relations, political economy, public policy, and political methodology. Topics of special interest to terrorism and counterterrorism studies include Chapter 6, “Modernity and its Critics,” Chapter 14, “Judicial Behavior,” Chapter 15, “Law and Society,” Chapter 17, “Overview of Political Behavior: Political Behavior and Citizen Politics,” Chapter 18, “Political Psychology and Choice,” Chapter 21, “Political Intolerance in the Context of Democratic Theory,” Chapter 25, “Why and How Place Matters,” Chapter 26, “Why and How History Matters,” Chapter 29, “What Causes Democratization?,” and Chapter 36, “Big Questions in the Study of World Politics.”


Publications from Stanford University Press

Ariel I. Ahram, Proxy Warriors: The Rise and Fall of State-Sponsored Militias. Stanford, CA: Stanford Security Studies, An Imprint of Stanford University Press, 2011. 208 pages, US $ 65.00 [Hardcover], US $ 21.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0804773570.

An original account of how paramilitary organizations are co-opted by states that have difficulty controlling their territories, transforming them in the process into state-sponsored militias. The author applies his conceptual framework to analyze how such militias interacted with state authorities in three case studies: the GOLKAR (Partai Golongan Karya – Party of Functional Groups) in Indonesia, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran, and the Sunni-based tribal ‘awakening’ and numerous other Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Although the author’s conclusion is correct that “Learning to accommodate those nonstate actors who are actually providing security to local communities is a better alternative than waiting in vain for strong states to replace them” (p. 140), the IRGC is considered a highly repressive and economically corrupt arm of the state and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq have greatly contributed to the country’s instability and anarchy. The author is an Assistant Professor in the School of International and Area Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma.

Robert M. Cassidy, Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror. Stanford, CA: Stanford Security Studies, An Imprint of Stanford University Press, 2008. 224 pages, US $ 24.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0804759663.

In this paperback edition of a volume originally published in 2006, the author, at the time a U.S. Army Officer, discusses the Russian, British, and American approaches to counterinsurgency in order to generate findings about best practices in countering guerrilla and terrorist insurgencies. His conclusions are especially germane to the current era’s need for effective counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, as he writes that “there are no magic and inherently quantifiable ‘metrics’ that we can slap on a Power Point matrix, with green and amber gumballs, one that might precisely measure our path to victory in counterinsurgency. This type of warfare is much more complex and qualitative because much of it deals with the population’s perception of both the guerrillas’ and the government’s legitimacy and credible capacity to coerce” (p. 163). An effective counterinsurgency campaign, he writes, must “employ force minimally but credibly and persuasively; ensure there is a unified and joint civil-military interagency approach; take all measures to enhance the perceived legitimacy of the government; co-opt and include the political opposition, to include the former insurgent infrastructure, into the legitimate political process; and maximize the employment of indigenous forces early, in both regular and irregular roles” (p. 163).

David Fitzgerald, Learning to Forget: US Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Practice from Vietnam to Iraq. Stanford, CA: Stanford Security Studies, An Imprint of Stanford University Press, 2013. 304 pages, US $ 24.95 [Hardcover], US $ 17.46 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0804793377.

An account, based on extensive archival research, of the evolution of the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency doctrine from the early 1960s to the current era as it was implemented in practice in the civil wars in Vietnam until Iraq and Afghanistan. The author concludes that, as demonstrated by the difficulties encountered by the American counterinsurgency experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a need to recognize the limits to military intervention and the strategic utility of the use of force, although, as he adds, “these lessons will be contested and reinterpreted anew as contemporary contingencies dictate” (p. 210).


Publications from the University of Chicago Press

Barak Mendelsohn, Combating Jihadism: American Hegemony and Interstate Cooperation in the War on Terrorism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 304 pages, US $ 50.00 [Hardcover], US $ 27.50 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-226520124.

The author draws on what he terms the English School of International Relations studies which “views states as members of an international society tied together by shared norms, general goals, and common rules that facilitate order and mitigate the negative effects of anarchy” (p. 2) to discuss how its most “hegemonic” power (i.e., the United States) and the international community cooperated against the jihadi threat posed by al Qaeda. The book is divided into two parts: an analysis of the jihadi threat, which, in the author’s phrasing “introduces the general logic guiding the systemic response,” (p. 34) [in which the ‘systemic response’ in ordinary English would mean ‘counterterrorism’] and the second part, “which examines specific spheres of international response, showing in the process that although the level of interstate cooperation has been high, it has also varied across issue areas” (p. 35). With statements such as “The approach presented in this book complicates assessments of the hegemon’s pursuit of multilateralism and its willingness to ‘go it alone’” (p. 34), and “The suppression of terrorism financing and reinforcement of states’ control over their borders represent efforts to bolster the international this society and its members in ways that are conducive to international cooperation” (p. 35), the volume is clearly intended for academic audiences who appreciate the use of jargon to explain international relations. It will be of limited utility to those interested in gaining a more insightful – and clearer – understanding of the jihadi terrorist threat and the components of effective counterterrorism. The author is assistant professor of political science at Haverford College and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.  

Brigitte L. Nacos, Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, and Robert Y. Shapiro. Selling Fear: Counterterrorism, the Media, and Public Opinion. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 264 pages, US $ 77.00 [Hardcover], US $ 28.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0226567204.

This book’s aim is to examine the period in the aftermath of 9/11 “in which the American government used fear to control politics by manipulating the mass media and, through the media, public opinion. It describes how public relations strategies, the media’s presentation of news, pollsters’ decisions on what to ask about, and the public’s perceptions and opinions all interacted with each other on terrorism-related issues for four years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001” (p. xii). The authors make the controversial claim that the U.S. government used fear and demagoguery to ‘control the politics’ of counterterrorism. Certainly, the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies were not ‘flawless’, but the authors appear so determined to demonstrate that ‘selling fear’ was the administration’s paramount concern that the authors  underestimate the magnitude of the terrorist threats against America and the West at the time in order to strengthen their ‘thesis’ that the U.S. vastly overreacted to these threats. While one may criticize the authors’ selling fear thesis, this book stands on solid ground in its operationalization of public opinion data to generate its findings.

Joseba Zulaika, Terrorism: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 288 pages, US $ 63.00 [Hardcover], US $ 23.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0226994161.

This book’s thesis can be summed up as follows: “The terrorism expert is arguably the most ironic authority figure since the inquisitor of the European witch-craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The role of the inquisitorial expert was to supply the mythology that fueled the witch-craze – a grotesque demonology based on the dualism of God and the Devil, and which rested on the confessions of witches obtained under torture.” (p. 24) Based on such assumptions that are sprinkled throughout the book, the author concludes that “The dialectical images of terrorism and counterterrorism unmask the traumatic core of current international politics – of a past that must be brought to an end once and for all.” (p. 223) With the same reality interpreted differently by those adhering to different ideologies and dogmas, it is left to the reader to decide whether to accept this author’s version of the reality of the nature of terrorism and counterterrorism.

About the Reviewer: Dr. Joshua Sinai is the Book Reviews Editor of ‘Perspectives on Terrorism’. He can be reached at: [email protected].





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