Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative Encyclopedia From the Anarchists, through the Weathermen, to the Unabomber

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9780871318558: Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative Encyclopedia From the Anarchists, through the Weathermen, to the Unabomber
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Throughout the twentieth century, countless criminal groups have earned infamy by their violent acts of terrorism. Political assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, lynchings and hijackings have stunned the world. In recent decades, terrorism has become an increasing threat, especially when it comes to air travel. Although in this country terrorism is not a new phenomenon, it is one that is growing-and the fear of terrorism is growing faster.

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Despite a somewhat bland title and sparse prose, Terrorism in the 20th Century is a virtual who's who of politically motivated mayhem and murder in our times. Author Jay Robert Nash constructs a frightening rogues' gallery of both little-known and infamous criminals, beginning with the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 and working his way up to the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh. Nash provides detailed accounts of early labor activism gone awry (witness Harry Orchard and his pre-Unabomber talent for making political enemies explode into small pieces) and, later, pre-Mafia organized criminal factions in the United States like the Black Hand, a band of extortionists that terrorized many large cities while Capone and Dillinger were still in diapers.

Some of Nash's accounts are heartbreaking, such as the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man railroaded in Atlanta on charges of murder and rape who was later lynched. Others figures are less sympathetic. Groups founded on certain political belief systems, such as Italy's Red Brigade, are revealed as vicious thugs, while still another set of the terrorist caste, like America's first skyjackers, father and son Cody and Leon Bearden, come off as bumbling, but not entirely despicable, stooges. --Tjames Madison

From Publishers Weekly:

Biographies come in various degrees of difficulty: there are subjects about whom much is known and those about whom little is known. And then there are a handful of subjects such as the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal, whose life has been based on elaborate deception. Carlos, born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez 49 years ago in Venezuela, led a childhood and youth so outlandish that even a novelist might have shunned such incredible material. While still in his teens, Carlos achieved the status of a highly trained revolutionary with the encouragement of his leftist father. Linking himself to Palestinian terrorists, Carlos began accepting murderous assignments throughout the world, killing innocent people because of their religious affiliations or their political views. After detailing Carlos's crimes, Follain turns to the campaign by various intelligence agencies (including the CIA) to capture the terrorist, a campaign that resulted in his capture in the Sudan by French counterespionage agents in 1994. (He is currently imprisoned in France.) French journalist Follain (A Dishonoured Society) can be applauded for attempting such an ambitious project, but huge (if often understandable) gaps in his research, far-fetched psychologizing and clunky writing sabotage this biography of a saboteur. (Nov.) FYI: Carlos is identified as "the most feared international terrorist" of the 20th century in Jay Robert Nash's Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative Encyclopedia from the Anarchists through the Weathermen to the Unabomber. (M. Evans, $24.95 paper 456p ISBN 0-87131-855-5; Dec.)
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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