The history of terrorism

Understanding Terrorism by Gus Martin


Gus Martin in this book has talked about a number of issues related to challenges. The author in this text tries to make the subject of terrorism easy to comprehend. The book is structured into four parts. The parts are terrorism as a concept, terrorists, terrorist trade and future trends. The individual chapters are well arranged starting with the introduction and ending with a good summary of the main points in the book. The book has beautiful illustrations in form of case studies, pictures, graphs, charts and shaded boxes. It should be noted that the chapters at the end have got a list of resources which can be used for further studies on the topics discussed on the chapter.

Part I

In this part the author talks about the history of terrorism. He gives a variety of definition to the term terrorism. The author in a very clear way looks at the development of the political left, middle and right leaning. This serves as a rich foundation for understanding the later chapters in the book and any later studies in the area of domestic studies. Throughout the book, Gus Martin does not align himself with any of the definition he gives out but just seems to move along with the reader. In making a conclusion on this part he gives a clear analysis of the main causes of the terrorism. This clearly sets a good platform for understanding the following parts which looks at terrorists and their tools of trade.[1]

Part II

In the second part Gus Martin talks about terror from above. He explains this as terrorism activities which are sponsored states. He also looks at the terrorism activities which emerge from the grassroots that is from below. He looks at those involved in the grass roots terrorism as dissident terrorists. On the side of state terrorism, the author views them as products of policy statement of the states which are involved. Unlike the state terrorism, dissident terrorists take place when the state is not involved in its activities either through sponsoring or aiding in the logistics issues.[2]

Apart from talking about the state terrorists and the dissident terrorist activities, he also looks at the religious and ideological terrorist that engulfs both the domestic and international terrorists. The author goes further to distinguish between the leftist terrorists and the right wing terrorists. The leftist terrorists target the structures and avoid human targets at all coasts. On the other side, right leaning terrorism activities are directed at human targets. The author bring on board a new breed of terrorists whom he terms as gender selective. These are known for targeting specific genders. Gus Martin also looks at the different methods which are used by the terrorist in carrying out their activities. He also examines the motives which have been moving the terrorism activities around the world.[3]

Part III

In the third part, the author looks at the tools of trade. The author looks at the methods and weapons and defines them as the tools of trade. Media is also seen as tool for the terrorists. The media is used in a tactical way by the terrorists. The terrorist depend on the media in the promotion of their religious view points or ideologies to the greater world. At times it is used as a way of drawing the attention of the world to in justice they believe which has been accomplished against them. Gus Martin however cautions the general public about being careful with the media manipulation. The author argues that the public should weigh the intentions of the terrorists' activities and not be downplayed by injustice claims.[4]

Part IV

This is the last of the book that Gus Martin writes on. This part talks about the detection and elimination of terrorism activities. He also looks at the likely terrorism trend of activities in the future and at how it can be eliminated. He dedicates a good amount of space to examining the terrorism directed to the United States of America. Understanding this background is important as he believes it will help in understanding the logistics involved in the planning of the same activities in the future. He is positive about the fight against terrorism is possible if the technology available ca n be used well. He also claims that the advancement in the state of technology has advanced and makes it possible to identify people who have been associated with terrorism before.[5]

He illustrates with numerous examples in making it clear the difference between the left wing, right wing and the special interest domestic terrorists. He also shows the difference between the domestic groups and the international groups. In his conclusion the author examines the options which are available to the international community in the struggle to fight terrorism activities. Some of the suggestion he makes include the more gathering of intelligence. This information should be shared across the borders to help in paralyzing terrorism activities. There should be a common fight by the nations of the world against the terrorism activities if the future is to be free of the terrorism activities.[6]


The book is quite voluminous making it unpleasant for student who want to quickly get a quite overview of the topic of terrorism. The book also has too many reference materials which may confuse a beginner in this area. The volume of the book can be reduced to manageable levels by removing some of the graphic presentations some of which do not make much sense in the book.


Gus Martin has done an exemplary work on talking about terrorism. The text is quite comprehensive in its coverage of the topic and is quite resources because of the additional sources which are suggested after each chapter. The book is quite appropriate for use by scholars because of its wide coverage and directions for more materials on the topic. The illustrations presented make the message easy to understand however they really make the book voluminous. I enjoyed reading through this book and I recommend it for serious readers who wish to understand the operations of the terrorism world.


Martin, Gus. Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues. New York, NY: SAGE, 2006.

[1] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

[2] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

[3] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

[4] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

[5] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

[6] Gus Martin, Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 2006, New York, NY: SAGE.

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