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The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism…

The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism

by Matthew Carr

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Political violence has become the scourge of our world and terrorism is routinely described as a uniquely modern evil. Yet however unprecedented in scope the new terrorist organizations might appear, Matthew Carr argues in this definitive history of terrorism that they are merely offshoots of a spectacular bombing in 1881: the assassination of Tsar Alexander II by terrorists . . . or were they freedom fighters? Thus begins a narrative of extraordinary sweep that Publishers Weekly called ‘engrossing, unsettling’ and the Boston Globe praised as ‘brave and wise’ and ‘a book for the ages.’ In The Infernal Machine, Carr unearths the complex realities of terrorist violence and its indelible impact on nations as different as Italy, Argentina, France, Algeria, Ireland, Russia, Japan, and the United States. Spanning over a century of world history, The Infernal Machine reveals stunning similarities in societies’ responses to terrorism despite profound political and cultural differences. Carr demonstrates again and again that the true impact of terrorism has been felt in the overreactions of government and the media to acts of political violence. This encyclopedic and diagnostic primer for our frightening times allows us to see our current predicament against a background of striking historical parallels. ( )
  HurstPub | Nov 4, 2010 |
Excellent overview of "terrorism" as a concept, beginning in Tsarist Russia and moving up to the twenty-first century "War on Terror". In between, Carr covers "anarchists" in Europe and America in the late nineteenth century; Baader Meinhof and other European groups in the late 1970s and 1980s; the Irish Republican Army and other Irish/Fenian groups; Italian groups including the Red Brigades; South American rebels and governmental oppressors; Zionists fighting for Palestine in the 1950s; Palestinians fighting against Israel ever since; and, well, lots more. ( )
  cmc | Sep 23, 2007 |
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In 1881, a small group of Russian revolutionaries calling themselves "terrorists" assassinated Tsar Nicholas II in a spectacular bombing attack in St. Petersburg. Far from being psychopathic murderers--as they were depicted in the Russian press--these men and women viewed their actions as a just, even humanitarian response to tyranny. Today, political violence has become the scourge of our world, and terrorism is routinely described as a uniquely modern evil. Yet however unprecedented in scope the new terrorist organizations might appear, they are offshoots of the same tradition that began in nineteenth-century Europe. Chronicling the major episodes of terrorist violence that have occurred since then, this book weaves together this fascinating and urgent history for the first time. In a narrative combining extraordinary sweep with riveting historical detail, writer and journalist Matthew Carr demonstrates how terrorist violence--however deplorable--is a tactic used by groups with varied political objectives. The official response to such violence has often been even greater violence: in Ireland, Kenya, Algeria, and Uruguay, no less than today, rulers have consistently seized on terrorist attacks as a pretext for a massive counterassualt, sacrificing civil liberties and curtailing democratic institutions in the name of security and counterterrorism. Concise and lucid, this remarkably comprehensive narrative allows us to see our current predicament against a background of striking historical parallels, presenting a dramatic reframing of our troubled new century.--Book jacket.… (more)

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