*****Voices of Terror: Manifestos, Writings and Manuals of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Other Terrorists from Around the World and Throughout the Ages. Edited by Walter Laqueur; published by Sourcebooks, Inc., 800/432-7444 (phone), www.sourcebooks.com (Web); 400 pages; $19.95.
Brilliantly presented and meticulously documented, this book is probably the single best volume on terrorist writings. In terrorists’ own words, Voices of Terror allows a peek into the emotions, principles, and rhetoric that often accompany tyranny, revolution, guerilla warfare, and terrorism.
To offer insight into the ideological bases of today’s terrorists, Walter Laqueur lays out writings of their historical antecedents. Primary source documents represent groups and individuals both well known (Clausewitz, Lenin, and Osama bin Laden, for example) and obscure (such as English Puritan Edward Saxby and Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata).
By including such a broad and far-reaching cross-section of viewpoints, Laqueur has endowed the book with a big-picture perspective. That sets this work apart from other collections of manifestos, where the focus tends to be narrow.
Statesman Benjamin Disraeli once cautioned against reading history, which he characterized as “nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” Readers of this collection of writings, however, can have their history and their theory too. The lessons imparted strongly resonate today.
Reviewer: Mark H. Beaudry, CPP, is senior security professional with IBM-SWG, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a member of ASIS Intenational.