THE MAGAZINE

Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemy, Strengthening Ourselves

By James T. Dunne

***** Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemy, Strengthening Ourselves. By Brian Michael Jenkins; published by RAND Corporation, www.rand.org (Web); 254 pages; $19.95 (soft cover).

Among the many books that purport to point the way forward for America in the wake of 9-11, this one stands out, chiefly for its clarity and sensibility. Author Brian Michael Jenkins’ counterterrorism credentials are legendary and he has a gift for expressing truly significant and subtle insights on terrorism with simple clarity. It is often difficult to deny the common sense of his commentary.

Unconquerable Nation is sensibly structured, opening with an examination of how Americans prevailed over challenges like the Civil War and the Great Depression. Jenkins plainly states his convictions, the most fundamental of which are that America’s courage is the ultimate source of its security, and that whatever we do, we must preserve American values. He also does not shy away from declaring where he agrees and disagrees with current official policy.

The next two chapters, “An Appreciation of the Situation” and “Knowing our Enemy,” reveal Jenkins’ considerable expertise as a terrorism analyst who has researched the topic since the late 1960s. Jenkins candidly and realistically reviews the state of our fight against al Qaeda and provides a more complete context than we’re accustomed to. He argues effectively that our failure to fully understand the historical and cultural realities behind al Qaeda’s ideology limits our ability to defeat it.

Whether or not you agree with his prescriptions, Jenkins has written an assessment of the global war on terror that is an indispensable addition to any security bookshelf. With so much riding on our war against terrorism and against extremism in Iraq, reading this book is a must.


Reviewer: James T. Dunne, CPP, is a senior analyst with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and is a member of ASIS International’s Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime Council. The views expressed in this review are not necessarily those of the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security or the U.S. Government.

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