The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians

The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians

by Caleb Carr
3.8 10

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The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Terrific book for every student of bioterrorism preparedness and business ethics. The bottom line is a caveat: if you use terrorist tactics, the same tactics will be used against you. Whether you are in the battlefield or corporate field don't alienate, annihilate, or intentionally cause collateral damage. War must be focused, limited, and achieve PEACE not victory. These goals apply to those in uniforms and those in suits.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Did anyone in the White House read this book before last week?!!!! Yes we need to deal with threats to our national security aggressively and preemptively, but let us not repeat the mistakes of the past (many of them our own) by waging total war against civilian populations in response to threats-----strategic bombing included! history has proven that such terrorist---yes, terrorist--- tactics have only strenghtened the enemy's resolve and weakened the justification for military action in the first place! Not to mention the escalation in acts of reprisal. Carr is by no means a pacifist but sees successes only in the implementaion of limited war with tools such as the drone fighters (taking out selective targets) and tactical special forces in addition to improved collection of intelligence. His thoughts on Iraq and the Gulf War give one pause now that we are at war again. Is this the proper means to the elimination of Hussein? I am less sure now having read this. Very important book. Why aren't policy makers required to study history?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Extremely informative and very interesting. A must in the library of any military and/or history buff. Maybe author Carr should run for military advisor of the country. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sacchareen More than 1 year ago
A thorough and accurate look at ancient and modern terrorism and why it fails as policy. Some reviews that mention inaccuracies or misplaced examples of historical terror may want to consider that events rarely occur in a vacuum, and while not every historical event listed is a cookie cutter example of terrorism, they all share commonalities that make the book as a whole thought provoking, and timely, given the attacks in 2001, and the subsequent military engagements since then.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed reading this book, it suffers from logical flaws. At times, the book contradicts its thesis, arguing inconsistent positions. It is almost as if material was added after it was written in order to become more relevant. Aside from the logical errors, it is a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I concur with Mr. Carr's ideas that we should treat Terrorism as an act of war rather than a crime and that the killing of civilians ultimately leads to failure, I believe his historical references leave much to be desired. The historical examples he cites inconsistantly support his thesis and some are misleading or inaccurate. For example, regarding the Irgun's bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Mr. Carr fails to mention the Irgun phoned in a warning to evacuate the building which the British ignored and over 90 people died as a result. Including such a detail is not only important but doesn't support his theory. If Mr. Carr is going to give history, he needs to give the whole history, not that which only supports his ideas. Also his assertions regarding Palestine are also misleading at best. If one were to read only Mr. Carr's account one would believe that Jews NEVER lived in the area known as Palestine, that is was only occupied by Arab peoples. Historically wrong. Jews and Arabs have lived in the region for thousands of years. Those are just two examples which stood out as inaccurate. I wonder how many other inaccuracies there are? Do not mistake this for an historical reference, this is merely an elongated opinion piece. Mr. Carr perhaps should either get his facts correct or confine his opinion pieces to the Historical Journals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In The Lessons of Terror, Caleb Carr artificially separates international terrorism from domestic terrorism. Terrorism does not know borders and has disciples almost everywhere. Carr, however, is right to depict terrorists not as ordinary criminals but as warriors who deliberately target civilians with the purpose of undermining their determination to support either leaders or policies that these warriors oppose. Carr uses historical precedents that aim at showing that terrorism is a spectacularly failed tactic, what is not always true or proves to be correct only a few centuries after the facts. Some victimized civilian populations such as the survivors of Carthage after the Third Punic War, the Amerindians at the end of the 19th century or the civilians of the Axis Powers after WWII had no longer the capacity and/or willingness to retaliate. Other victimized civilian populations such as the direct witnesses of the atrocities of the Roman Empire or Crusaders were long dead before their nemeses were finally defeated. Furthermore, the victors could have shielded their own terrorists from justice because they were perceived as patriots and heroes, not as criminals. In these circumstances, perpetrators of these atrocities against civilians have been answerable for their crimes only after their own death. Unlike Carr, Victor Hanson in Carnage and Culture clearly shows that the real atrocity for the Westerner is not the number of corps, but the manner in which soldiers and civilians died and the protocols under which they were killed. The West believes that only war waged through open and direct assault is fair, regardless of the frightful losses inflicted on the adversary. The West has never accepted the logic of far fewer killed through ambush, terrorism, or the execution of prisoners and noncombatants as the current situation in Iraq convincingly demonstrates. However, Carr has a point that the West has not always practiced what it has been preaching on this subject. The Nazis and their allies come prominently to mind in their systematic disregard of the rules of Western civilization that did not save them from ultimate defeat. Although Carr praises the military campaign that the U.S. launched against Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, he is very negative in his appraisal of domestic efforts to prevent a repetition of this tragedy. Carr also harshly criticizes the Bush Junior administration for asking Americans to go about their lives and business as usual. Carr apparently does not want to acknowledge that a capitalist, democratic society is by definition an open society that thrives on exchanges within its borders and with the rest of the world. Vigilance and awareness rather than paranoia are required. Otherwise, one plays the game of terrorists and turn one¿s life into a prison. Interestingly, Carr wrote his book before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Carr states that fighting terrorism requires at times force against terrorists and the states protecting them, at other times diplomacy conducted with the states that are willing to mend their ways. Ultimately, Carr correctly pushes for the adoption of an international convention that should outlaw terrorism after the model of previous conventions banning for example piracy, slavery and genocide. Carr, however, wrongly downplays the importance of the political dimension of terrorism. No one can vanquish terrorism as long as its breeding ground is not drained. Bombarding a swamp can kill a few mosquitoes, but not their capacity to be born again and haunt their future victims. Although Carr scores some points in describing some shortcomings of the DOD, the CIA and the NSC, he does not seem to acknowledge the difficulty of their task. Whoever has ever been involved in intelligence gathering and assessment knows that sometimes it can be extremely difficult to get a complete picture of an existing or potential threat. Intelli
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very readable and well-organized book that has a timely message. In fact the editors and author seem to have raced to get this in print without having anyone actually 'in the know' review it for its claims. Holding up Oliver Cromwell, for instance, as a practitioner of limited war because his men wore uniforms is ridiculous when we realize that Carr doesn't tell his reader that OC butcher thousands of civilians in Ireland. This contradicts his entire argument! Someone else needs to do a better job with this thesis. Perhaps Carr ough to go back to writing (boring) fiction.