Summary of Why Terrorism Works

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Why Terrorism Works book summary


8 Overall

6 Applicability

10 Innovation

9 Style


Harvard don and civil-liberties lawyer extraordinaire Alan Dershowitz turns his keen and combative eye to the war on terrorism, and the results aren’t pretty. His conclusions about the causes of terrorism and the most effective means of fighting will not sit well with many of Dershowitz’s historically steadfast supporters. The normally liberal lawyer lambastes European governments for what he characterizes as their cowardly appeasement of terrorists, which he points to as the central driver of growth in the terrorism industry. He also proclaims flatly that the international community should purposefully refrain from addressing the "root causes" of any group that adopts terrorist means. How this would work in practice is never quite explained, but nevertheless, recommends this important and damning book as a welcomed addition to the emerging debate on how best to wage the war on terrorism.

In this summary, you will learn

  • A history of terrorism from the late 1960s to Sept. 11, 2001;
  • How international unwillingness to seriously punish terrorists during this period contributed to its spread;
  • Why the international community should refuse to address the "root causes" motivating terrorist groups, and
  • The most effective means of combating terrorism.

About the Author

Harvard University Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz is the best-selling author of several books, including Supreme Injustice and Chutzpah. He is one of America’s most renowned criminal defense and civil liberties attorneys. A frequent television commentator on politics, law and terrorism, Dershowitz himself became a terrorist target after calling for the Palestinian Liberation Organization to launch an internal investigation of attacks committed by agents who were trained by the PLO.



The Making of 9/11
To understand the events of Sept. 11, 2001, you must go back to Sept. 5, 1972, when terrorists conducted the Olympic massacre in Munich, Germany. That attack was part of a pattern of violence that had started just a few years earlier and extended through 9/11/01.

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