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The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism
by Matthew Carr
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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.
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