A thoughtful if inconclusive study of female terrorists by a writer for The Observer. Intrigued by the advice given to recruits of Interpol and European anti-terrorist squads to ""shoot the women first,"" MacDonald decided to find out just ""why the leas violent sex is regarded by anti-terrorist squads as the more lethal."" She met with female members of the Basque separatist organization ETA, the PLO, the Intifada, the IRA, the Red Army, and the Baader-Meinhof gang, as well as with international authorities on terror. In South Korea, MacDonald interviewed Kim Hyon Hui, who planted the bomb that killed all the passengers on board Korean Air Flight 858. Except for a couple of terrorists like Kim, who shows symptoms of a ""borderline personality,"" and like PLO member Leila Khaled, who's unable ""to put herself into her victim's shoes,"" the women appear disarmingly normal and unremarkable. Some, like Rita O'Hare of the IRA, see violence as a ""people's only weapon"" but admit that ""face to face is difficult."" Others argue that violence is for the struggle because, as one ETA member puts it, ""with arms you can get the results very quickly."" Many, like Italian Red Brigade member Susanna Roncconi and German Red Army Faction terrorist Astrid Proll, seem to have joined-their movements out of strong political and feminist convictions. Though experts note the role played by such allegedly female traits as pragmatism, ruthlessness, and industriousness, MacDonald comes to no firm conclusions. She does suggest that significant factors include women's need to prove themselves, and the opportunity to wield power, to be ""able to influence the world about you instead of experiencing it passively."" MacDonald raises as many questions as she answers, but, by writing the first book co a disturbing subject, she's also provided a useful and informative introduction.