The book of understanding terrorism

Understanding Terrorism


This is a book review on the book Understanding terrorism. The book, understanding terrorism is authored by Gus Martin. The author in this book looks at the challenges, perspectives, and issues which surround terrorism. The book is a second edition of the first and is a great foundation for those seeking insight into terrorism; the scholars and causal reader alike. This books reviews ideas, events, motivations that lead to terrorism. The author also tries his best to give some theories to explain the terrorists' activities. The text is designed to start with a conceptual overview of terrorism. After a discussion on this introduction the author moves forward to discuss the terrorists and investigates the levels of terrorist business. Gus Martin makes a beautiful conclusion by analyzing modern terrorism. The author supports the ideas in the chapters with end notes. The book is also armed with maps together with a glossary. The book is divided into four parts analyzed as below (Margaret para. 1).

Part I

This part has three chapters which fully show the concept of terrorism. The first is written on the first impression which is created. He looks at the first consideration of terrorism, the conceptual consideration and then talks about the recent attacks on the U.S. The author looks at various illustrations towards the end of chapter one. In the second chapter the author examines what he refers to as the nature of the beast. In this chapter he defines terrorism from various perspectives. Finally in the third chapter he discusses the causes of terrorism. He starts by narrating the case of Carlos (Martin 30).

In general the author, under part I, tries to bring into light the history of terrorism and gives it different definitions. He gives useful information on the political leanings which make it possible for better understanding of the topic terrorism. It should be noted that the author gives an array of definitions to terrorism in this part.

Part II

The second part is titled terrorists and looks at the various perspectives of the terrorists. In the first chapter of this part, that is chapter four, the author looks at the state type of terrorism and views it as state terrorism. The author argues that this type of terrorism is state sponsored and occurs in some states which promote terrorism. He explains this through the patronage and assistance model. He views the case of an African country as an example of state terrorism. He also analyses the case of Iraq and the early threat of weapons of mass destruction. Still under Iraq, he comes in with another term 'genocidal state terrorism' and shows how it happened in Iraq as well as Cambodia (Martin 140).

Still in part two, the author talks about another type of terrorism. He comes up with the dissident terrorism which he defines as one not sponsored by the state and not in any way connected with the state. He gives various classes of the dissident terrorism as revolutionary dissident, nihilist dissident and nationalistic dissidents. He analyses the Chechnya terrorism in Russia and the Palestinian movement. He also looks at looks at the issue of child soldiers. The author concludes this part by looking at seemingly new type of terrorists called the gender sensitive terrorist. Gus Martin also looks at the different motives and the methods which ca n be used by the terrorists in achieving their goals (Martin 250).

Part III

In this part the author talks about the terrorist trade. The first of this part is chapter ten in which Gus Martin writes about the tactics and the targets of the terrorists. He starts this discussion by first looking at the objectives of the terrorist and then moves to analyze the methods used whereby he talks about asymmetrical warfare among other means. He moves to examine the targets and then writes about the tactical horrors used such as the videos and audios tapes. He shows how this at times forces states to overreact. Martin also talks about the role the media in terrorism and shows the terrorists groups uses the media in the expansion of their agenda. In this part the author writes about a new battleground which is based on the media (Martin pp. 398).

The author concludes the topic by discussing the right of the public to know and the free press issues. He argues that the public should always be fed with the correct information so that they can be enabled to make the right decision whenever issues of terrorism are involved. This will cut short most of the terrorist agenda which are targeted at the media. The author also slot in the issue of self regulation and discusses the American media in relation to this (Martin 401).

Part IV

The final part is dubbed the 'final analysis' and starts with chapter 12 which looks at the American case of terrorism. The author tries to dig out the origins of terrorism in the U.S. by first looking at the issue of communal vigilance. Martin uses this platform to write about American cults and terrorist violence. He also looks digs and writes about the leftist activism and ideologies under which he further talks about extremism in the U.S. The author along these lines brings on board the rise of black power. He writes much about the homegrown racism which exists in the U.S. afterwards the author spills his books over to cover international terrorism (Martin 455).

The author also writes about responding to terror in which he looks at two options; the first being the use of force and the second option the use of other means apart from force. The author also writes about hostage recues whereby he talks about the strategies which are used in such operations. He concludes this part by writing about the capture of Mr. Amal Kansi and looking at how at the domestic laws and counterterrorism (Martin 501).


Gus Martin has done an excellent work in this book. He gives rich background to terrorism in various regions which forms a good foundation for understanding the topic terrorism. The book is particularly useful to students because of the additional note given and directions for further reading on the topic. I will recommend this book to all scholars and any other person willing to understand the terrorism. Margaret Fischer in concluding her review of the book recommends the books for undergraduate course calling it a useful tool for their use.

Works cited

Margaret, Fischer, "Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues," 2006. Retrieved on January 22, 2010 from:

Martin, Gus. Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, perspectives and issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers, 2009.

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