A History of Terrorism

Article excerpt

A HISTORY OF TERRORISM, Walter Laqueur, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, 2001, 277 pages, $24.95.

Walter Laqueur, professor emeritus of Georgetown University, is chairman of the International Research Council of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is a leading academic expert on terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and political violence. A History of Terrorism was originally published in 1977 and, with the exception of a new introduction, the text remains the same. Paradoxically, this is the book's strength and weakness; it is a strength because Laqueur's purpose in writing the work was not to rush out a book to capitalize on the events of 11 September 2001. His survey of the history of terrorism as a strategy of political violence provides a much-needed historical context to ongoing events.

Much of what Laqueur writes seems eerily prescient, considering the book is over two decades old. On the other hand, most readers will be lost as Laqueur fights 25-year-old academic battles, and they will be frustrated when the history ends abruptly in the 1970s. …