THE TERRORISTS by Milton Meltzer
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Political terrorism without equivocation--taking off from the Brink's holdup and shootout. "How common is political terrorism? How far back does it go? Is it a worldwide phenomenon?" Beginning, expertly, by putting thoughts in the reader's mind, Meltzer proceeds first to define political terrorism: "the exploitation of a state of intense fear, caused by the systematic use of violent means by a party or group, to get into power or to maintain power." He also notes, importantly, that "terrorism has become the weapon of many different ideologies (from extreme right to extreme left), religions, ethnic groups, nationalists." Then, he recounts the activities of terrorist groups from the 11th-century Muslim Assassasina (whence, of course, the word) through the French Revolution to: Russian anarchism (Bakunin, Nechayev, Herzen; Sophia Perovskaya and the assassination of Alexander II); "Terrorism, American Style" (the Reconstruction Klan, imported anarchism); the irish "Troubles"; the Irgun, and Palestinian-Jewish terrorism; the Palestinian-Arab terrorist network; Uruguay's Tupamaros and systematic terrorism; the Baader-Meinhof gang; Italy's Red Brigades; the Weather Underground; and spot-outcroppings today. Again and again, Meltzer notes misgivings, miscarriages, splits--concluding the Irish chapter, for example, with a strong anti-Sinn Fein statement by Conor Cruise O'Brien (and incorporating into the Palestinian-Jewish chapter Weizmann's opposition). But he saves his strongest arguments for the finale--enlisting revolutionaries Emma Goldman and Alexander Herzen to testify against "the end justifying the means," or "sanctifying crimes by faith in some remote utopia." Brisk, knowledgeable, incisive.
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1983
ISBN: 0060241934
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1983


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