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Starred Review. Erlich (coauthor of Target Iraq) questions how the U.S. has dealt with terrorist threats since 2001, suggesting that by "labeling all opponents as terrorists," the government has "from a practical perspective... rendered the term ÿterrorism' meaningless." Using decades of his personal reporting, personal interviews, and new research, Erlich emphasizes the stark differences between the nihilism of al-Qaeda and the political aspirations of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. He urges the U.S. to "recognize the difference between isolated fanatics and groups fighting for legitimate causes," concluding that such a policy shift would "do more to undermine groups such as al Qaeda than all U.S. invasions combined." Although the patchwork of interviews, analysis, background information, and policy prescriptives in such a slender book can be overwhelming, Erlich efficiently unearths some of the most problematic and overlooked narratives about terrorism.
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"Erlich is not afraid of asking hard questions... he also believes the term "terrorist" is a dangerous distortion of reality that can turn a political conflict into a forever war."
—Conn Hallinan, Review: Talking With Terrorists, Foreign Policy in Focus, November 11, 2010
“One of the most courageous journalists I know.”
—Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), Poet, Playwright, and Political Activist
Since I was present at two of these conversations with terrorists, I feel fully qualified to tell you that book you’re holding is true, accurate, thoughtful and eminently readable. I would expect no less of a man who would walk up to Khalil Meschal, the head of the military wing of Hamas at a Syrian embassy reception and ask for an interview. He got it. I traveled with Reese from the Souks of Damascus to the killing grounds of Al Sukariya, near Iraq where we investigated a secret US raid together. It was like traveling with a pit-bull who is trailing a truck of raw meat. Reese locks on to an objective and will not be deterred until he has unpacked and deconstructed it from at least seven angles. (Which are two more than I can conceive of.)
—Peter Coyote, Actor and Author of Sleeping Where I Fall
Reese Erlich, without romanticizing or apologizing for terrorism, gives us a perspective on the Middle East that might balance the propaganda we are daily fed by apologists for the violence of the American Empire and its wars.
—Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine, and Chair, Network of Spiritual Progressives
“As usual, Reese Erlich is right on target.”
—James Abourezk, Former U.S. Senator, South Dakota
“This book cuts through the fog of ‘war on terror,’ providing readers with a searchlight to see beyond propaganda. The resulting clarity will transform views of what is—and what is possible.”
—Norman Solomon, Author of War Made Easy and Made Love, Got War
“What is terror? A word. What is in that word, ‘terror’? Reese Erlich introduces us to people whose names are associated with that word. He gives them the chance to speak. When we listen, we find ourselves provoked with unexpected insights and challenges to our stereotypes.”
“In an era when the Bush Administration has defined the world as good VS. evil, it's great to read a book that reminds you things aren't all black and white, but rather shades of grey. Conversations shows you that the term ‘terrorist’ is subjective and that one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist."
—Maz Jobrani, Comedian/Actor/American Citizen
Great book, with very good insights! If like reading Robert Baer you'll love this book! I especially enjoyed the interviews with the "terrorists".Published on December 28, 2012 by Matthew R Wilt
Wow. Lots of vitriol here for the US government. Some, or maybe even a lot, of this could be warranted: we have some uncomfortable facts to reckon with in our past and... Read morePublished on June 19, 2012 by Eric Anest
As we head into yet another era of turbulent relations around the world - we should all be reading Conversations With Terrorists to understand how we are all capable of being both... Read morePublished on June 8, 2011 by Jennifer