From Publishers Weekly
Burleigh (Earthly Powers
), one of the leading English-language scholars of the role of ideas in the modern world, makes another major contribution in this pull-no-punches cultural study of terrorism as it has been lived and practiced for a century and a half. Burleigh sees modern terrorism's roots in the mid–19th century, with the emergence of the Irish Fenians, the Russian nihilists, the Western anarchists who used fear induced by violence to compensate for their lack of political power. Their tactics were adopted in the mid–20th century by movements seeking decolonization, like the Palestinian Black September, Italy's Red Brigades and Germany's Red Army Faction. By century's end, terrorism further mutated into a tool for marginalized local nations like the Basques. Most recently, terrorism has become identified with what Burleigh calls the world rage of Islamism. Burleigh's case studies demonstrate mercilessly that terrorism is a career, a culture, and a way of life attractive for its own sake as well as its ostensible objectives. The terrorist milieu, the author demonstrates convincingly, is morally squalid, intellectually bankrupt and politically barren. Burleigh considers the lessons history has to teach us, though he eschews policy recommendations. (Mar.)
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'Takes everybody from Fenians and anarchists to the Red Brigades and al-Qaeda, and is written with characteristically biting flair.' Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph (Books of the Year) 'Typically excellent!There are few better writers at work today.' Sunday Times (Books of the Year) 'Burleigh's evident ability to assimilate and communicate incisively!a highly intelligent and comprehensive survey of recent terrorism.' Observer 'Burleigh has entered the fray with a more magisterial tome, broad in scope, powerful in argument and brimming with healthy rage. Uncompromising!a riveting book.' Scotsman 'Balances historical reportage with reasoned theories.' FT 'This timely and important book's relevance is embracing. [Burleigh] is a clear-eyed historian!he sets his targets in context!and then pulverises them with an orderly and ceaseless barrage of facts. In all sorts of ways an outstanding book.' Daily Telegraph 'Bracingly opinionated!informative and absorbing!engaging and provocative.' Independent on Sunday 'Burleigh's mastery of detail and research leaves us with no illusions about murderous pseudo-idealism.' Frederick Raphael, TLS (Books of the Year) 'Comprehensive, wide-ranging and superbly written!vivid and compelling.' Simon Heffer, Literary Review 'Passionate, fascinating, chilling but always highly readable.' Andrew Roberts, Country Life (Books of the Year) 'A forbidable and impressive book filled wtih valuable insights into a subject that isn't going away any time soon.' Sunday Business Post 'A magisterial tome, broad in scope, powerful in its argument and brimming with healthy rage!riveting.' Evening Standard 'The clearest, sanest and most knowledgeable voice is increasingly that of the historian Michael Burleigh. No one writes so well or so reliably, and this powerful book will give another boost to his reputation.' Daily Mail 'Written in Burleigh's usual cogent and trenchant style, the book can be highly recommended.' Sunday Telegraph Praise for 'Sacred Causes': 'Compelling!hugely ambitious!Burleigh is a writer who pulls no punches and seldom leaves a difficult question unasked.' Sunday Telegraph 'Impressive!formidable!his book deserves the widest possible readership.' Sunday Times
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