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Pitched well below the level of academic ""political science,"" this is an extremely lucid and well-argued defense of terrorism -- the illegitimate offspring of the European Left. Hyams argues that the pronunciamentos of governments notwithstanding, terrorism is (a) frequently effective and (b) no more, nor less morally reprehensible than any other form of warfare. Where is the rationale for the absolute denial of military force to all but those ""who happen to be the holders of political power?"" Beginning with the Anarchist theorists of the 19th century -- Bakunin, Johann Most, Max Stirner and especially Nechayev, who created for himself the persona that was to become a literary archetype of the revolutionary fanatic (he was the model for Verkhovensky in Dostoevsky's The Possessed) -- Hyams touches on the Carbonari, the Serbian ""Black Hand,"" the Narodnaya Volya and even the Mafia before concentrating his argument on the two most successful terrorist campaigns of modern times -- those which established the independent states of Israel and Ireland. In 1918 it was not lloyd-George's sympathy with Irish and Welsh nationalist aspirations but the brilliant guerrilla tactics of Michael Collins which forced the British to rethink ""the Irish question""; today, even though Wildson still says he will have nothing to do with the Provos, Ulster Unionism (as embodied in Stormont) is already dead and negotiations with Sinn Fein are now underway. Similarly though the moderates took over the reins of power quickly enough, ""it was the terrorists who gave Israel to the Jews."" Hyams ends up with the grim conclusion that terrorism will be with us so long as there are laws because: it is in law that social injustice is embodied and by law that it is sanctioned. Terrorism thus becomes nothing less than a ""cathartic fever"" endemic in civilization, which can only be eliminated by ""pre-emptive, sustained counter-terrorism"" of the leviathan state -- which may be infinitely more brutal and oppressive than any band of brigands. A tough-minded, disturbing book.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1975
Publisher: St. Martin's