February 15th, 2020

Book 16 - 2018

Book 16: The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare against Civilians - Why it Has Always Failed, and Why it Will Fail Again by Caleb Carr - 259 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Military historian Caleb Carr's groundbreaking work anticipated America's current debates on preemptive military action against terrorist sponsor states, reorganization of the American intelligence system, and the treatment of terrorists as soldiers in supranational armies rather than as criminals. Carr's authoritative exploration demonstrates that the practice of terrorism, employed by national armies as well as extremists since the days of ancient Rome, is ultimately self-defeating. Far from prompting submission, it stiffens enemy resolve and never leads to long-lasting success. Controversial on its initial publication in 2002, The Lessons of Terror has been repeatedly validated by subsequent events. Carr's analysis of individual terrorist acts, and particularly of the history of the Middle East conflict, is fundamental to a deep understanding of the roots of terrorism as well as the steps and reforms that must be taken if the continuing threat of terrorist behavior is to be met effectively today and, finally, eradicated tomorrow.

I picked up this book at a biannual book sale I go to for $2. As I was studying a subject in Terrorism at the time it seemed relevant. I wish I had more time to read books about the topics I was studying when I was studying them, as I think it would make my writing better (though I still get good grades, so its probably just me being a nerd!). Anyway, I didn't realise at the time how military history focused this book. Military history is not really my thing, partly because my brother is a historian who specialises in it (so I hear about it all the time!) and partly because I really enjoy sociology and the why of things was more. Nonetheless, Carr uses military history to argue that terrorism has always failed in its endeavours, will always fail, and should never be met with terrorism. Its important to note that he defines terrorism as acts aimed at turning a people against their government, which while valid for his argument, is not how I would define terrorism. Bearing this in mind, I can see the merits to his argument, though I can't say I'm wholly persuaded, as I personally think the motives behind terrorism are significantly more complex. Nonetheless, its an interesting take on the topic, and while I'm not sure I'm keen on advocating for acting before UN approval to ensure the element of surprise, I won't deny there is a certain logic. An interesting read on a very broad and complex topic.

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

5099 / 15000 pages. 34% done!

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