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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air: lucid and balanced.
Far better than most full-length books and collections on the subject of terrorism, this at once thoughtful and accessible slim volume does precisely what anyone thirsting for a basic grip on the subject would hope to find: from questions of what bthe label 'terrorism' actually means, to an exploration of the various kinds of actions and programmes that have been...
Published on 7 Mar 2004

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very pore print quality
This book was recommended on its content while attending a course. I picked up the book to read last night and found the print quality to be extremely poor.
Published 10 months ago by J G Macknight


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air: lucid and balanced., 7 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Far better than most full-length books and collections on the subject of terrorism, this at once thoughtful and accessible slim volume does precisely what anyone thirsting for a basic grip on the subject would hope to find: from questions of what bthe label 'terrorism' actually means, to an exploration of the various kinds of actions and programmes that have been described as 'terrorism', and the question of responses - including the issue of possible tensions between counter-terrorism and democracy. Townshend addresses all this in in a scrupulously balanced way, and in a language that avoids jargon but does not 'talk down'. For those left wanting to explore further, a very good annotated 'further reading' section concludes the book. In sum, like so many of these Oxford 'Very Short Introductions': excellent.
Dr Gerd Nonneman
Lancaster University
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To make you think......, 24 Feb 2003
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"Terrorism" - "terror" carried out by small groups - started, arguably, in the nineteenth century, in response to the terror perpetrated by states. Given the horrific acts carried out by states in the twentieth century it is not surprising that terrorism has also developed.
This short book reviews the history of terrorism and the different forms it has taken especially since the second world war.
It's detached and informative, a welcome antidote to the knee-jerk reactions of governments and press, and a chance to bring some perspective to what is going on in the world today. But it is short; it'll leave you wanting more - it is the role of Short Introductions to whet the appetitite.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To make you think......, 24 Feb 2003
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"Terrorism" - "terror" carried out by small groups - started, arguably, in the nineteenth century, in response to the terror perpetrated by states. Given the horrific acts carried out by states in the twentieth century it is not surprising that terrorism has also developed.
This short book reviews the history of terrorism and the different forms it has taken especially since the second world war.
It's detached and informative, a welcome antidote to the knee-jerk reactions of governments and press, and a chance to bring some perspective to what is going on in the world today. But it is short; it'll leave you wanting more - it is the role of Short Introductions to whet the appetitite.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terror and Politics, 19 Oct 2009
By 
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Charles Townsend's "Terrorism" is a brief introduction to a subject which is more complex than it appears to be at first glance. Terror tactics are largely a by-product of political conflict and are usually - but not always - the weapons of those lacking political power. It uses violence to spread fear and alarm in order to create conditions suitable for political action and gain publicity for its "cause". In some instances, notably during the French and Russian Revolutions, terror was used by governments to kill those who objected to the ruling regime.

In the nineteenth century such attacks were largely anarchist inspired and usually aimed at Kings, Presidents, Prime Minsters and other public figures. It was known as "propaganda by deed" and considered to be a legitimate tactic by small groups of people who were incapable of convincing the masses by reason that socialism was a legitimate ideology for the overthrowing of existing bourgeois institutions. Prince Peter Kropotkin, however, understood such tactics were likely to lead to repression pointing out that "a structure based on centuries of history cannot be destroyed with a few kilos of explosives". This was an observation the IRA failed to learn when it embarked on its various civilian bombing campaigns in Britain which had the effect of creating an atmosphere of hostility to Irish unification rather than one of sympathy.

Terror tends to breed terror as was evident in Northern Ireland where Nationalist and Loyalist groups split more often than P J Proby's trousers, each new group trying to outdo its former comrades in deeds of destruction. All were characterised by a ruthless determination to achieve their objectives by intimidating or eliminating those opposed to their views. In response goverments and ruling elites organised their own terror groups as with the KKK in the USA, the OAS in Algeria and various military assassins in Latin American countries, while there are those who believe the leaders of the Baader-Meinhof Gang were murdered by the German authorities.

The past two decades has seen the rise of religious terrorism. Such terrorism is not new. The Jewish Zealots led an anti-Roman campaign in the first century AD. The Assassins were a Muslim cult active in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Muslim Brotherhood was active in Egypt in the 1950's. All of them combined practical political objectives with different forms of messianic hope. This heady mix produced the suicide bomber, usually young and impressionable, willing to die for the cause. It is as foolish to separate Islamic politics from religion as it is to try to understand Protestantism without reference to the international politics of the sixteenth century. 9/11 was a political act written in religious language.

In open societies terrorism cannot be ignored as it threatens the very foundations on which such societies are based. Yet, historically, many responses have been out of proportion. The American response to 9/11 was one lacking the intelligence required to make it both militarily and politically effective. Throughout history governments have come to terms with terrorist leaders including Mugabe and Makarios and, indeed, while publicly condemning the terrorist murder of two children in Warrington in 1993, the government of the day was already in negotiations with the IRA.

Terrorism rarely achieves anything other than the perpetuation of hatred and hostility, although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission appears to have made a difference in South Africa. In other instances it has only provoked revenge attacks such as Operation Wrath of God which set out to avenge the Palestinian murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, an operation which only ceased when Mossad killed an innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway. As for the terrorists, while some have renounced violence others such as Abu Daod - who masterminded the Munich murders - and the Brighton bomber, Patrick Magee, still insist it was the right thing to do at the time. Neither expressed remorse that their actions had created more violence in which innocent supporters of their own cause were damaged and both seemed more concerned with the adverse publicity that such actions would have in the current climate. Ironically, the initial motive for the use of terrorism has proved to be its undoing.

If the book is not as easy to read as others in this excellent series from the Oxford University Press it's because the subject is more complex than the tabloids would have us believe. Townshend has made a valiant attempt and deserves every credit, although the very nature of terrorism is one which does not lend itself to light reading. Four stars.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very pore print quality, 2 Feb 2014
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This book was recommended on its content while attending a course. I picked up the book to read last night and found the print quality to be extremely poor.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking but heavy going, 9 May 2004
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P. Sharpe "pete_bot" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is very interesting and is a brief introduction that makes you want to go out and learn more. However it is written like a research paper and occasionally you do have to go back and reread sentences to get the ideas fully. It's size makes it perfect for reading on the tube or the bus, however it'll have to be a quiet tube or bus so you can understand it.
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Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Charles Townshend (Paperback - 8 Sep 2011)
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