Why Terrorism Works


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Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge

Alan M. Dershowitz

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One of America’s most distinguished defenders of civil liberties presents measures that will prevent terrorism and still uphold our democratic values

The greatest danger facing the world today, says Alan M. Dershowitz, comes from religiously inspired, state sponsored terrorist groups that seek to develop weapons of mass destruction for use against civilian targets. In his newest book, Dershowitz argues passionately and persuasively that global terrorism is a phenomenon largely of our own making and that we must and can take steps to reduce the frequency and severity of terrorist acts. Analyzing recent acts of terrorism and our reaction to them, Dershowitz explains that terrorism is successful when the international community gives in to the demands of terrorists—or even tries to understand and eliminate the “root causes” of terrorism. He discusses extreme approaches to wiping out international terrorism that would work if we were not constrained by legal, moral, and humanitarian considerations. And then, given that we do operate under such constraints, he offers a series of proposals that would effectively reduce the frequency and severity of international terrorism by striking a balance between security and liberty.

Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard Law School and America’s most renowned criminal defense and civil liberties attorney, is the best-selling author of Supreme Injustice, Chutzpah, Reversal of Fortune, Reasonable Doubts, and many other books.

"Alan Dershowitz has summoned uncommon intellectual brilliance and moral courage to write a boldly incisive blueprint to win the war against terror. It should be read by everyone concerned with safeguarding the future of our societies."—Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel

"How empowering to read a book on terrorism empty of both hypocrisy and polemicism."—David Mamet, novelist, essayist and filmmaker

“Alan M. Dershowitz is a seminal force. His latest book Why Terrorism Works, is the most interesting and insightful commentary I have ever read on the subject. Terrorism today is worldwide and now the weapon on choice by those seeking to achieve their political goals through violence. Innocent civilians are deliberately targeted for death. Dershowitz makes the point, ‘Terrorists are trying to kill our children and our grandchildren. They are trying to change our way of life and diminish our liberties.’ He then, with great common sense, lays out the menu of responses that democratic societies like the United States and Israel have available to defend themselves. I urge the C.I.A., F.B.I., the Mossad in Israel and the targets—all of us—to read this book.”—Ed Koch

"Written with great clarity and perception, Alan Dershowitz’s new book on the murderous impact of international terrorism helps the reader understand the religious fanaticism and misguided political violence that continue to plague the twenty-first century, as well as their unavoidable consequences."—Elie Wiesel, Boston University

"Perhaps America’s most brilliant public intellectual, Alan Dershowitz attacks the central challenge of our times—terrorism—with ruthless honesty and striking originality, delivered in a narrative so compelling that the pages seem to turn themselves."—Richard North Patterson, author of Protect and Defend

"Alan Dershowitz, with his usual clarity, shows that terror is no longer just a national concern, but a global danger. In addition, terror, rather than stemming from poverty, generates poverty. Hence, its effects are double-edged: global in scope, social in nature."—Shimon Peres, deputy prime minister of Israel and minister of foreign affairs

Why Terrorism Works is critical reading for anyone interested in the legacy terrorism has left us, how our previous weak responses have encouraged more of it, and how we can end it. I particularly recommend this book for college students who are looking for a one-stop resource detailing the nature of the threat we face and the way to face it.”—William J. Bennett, author of Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism

"Talk about chutzpah. . . . As he often does, Dershowitz poses uncomfortable questions and presents straightforward, thought-out solutions."—David Abel, Boston Globe

"[A] profoundly disquieting book. . . . Dershowitz brings to his brief on terrorism a clarity of vision impelled by a sense of outrage and an advocacy that is as clear as his perceptions. . . . Dershowitz not only interprets the nightmare but uses his legal and managerial talents to describe a strategy of attack that will, if not stop terrorism in its tracks, then at least slow it down dramatically."—Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star

"As always, Dershowitz is provocative and controversial. . . . As a popular examination of the issues, the book is a welcome and useful addition to a growing body of literature. Recommended. General readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduates."—Choice

"An essential and thoughtful analysis. I recommend Why Terrorism Works to lovers of liberty. When one agrees with him, Dershowitz makes the case as well as anyone and better than most."—Danny Goldberg, Forward

"An important, accessible work that dares to raise (and mostly answer) the hard, fundamental questions about how a free society’s legal system deals with a terrorist threat that places it in mortal jeopardy. . . . Those who enact and interpret our laws would be well advised to absorb Professor Dershowitz’s analysis and recommendations, which stem from a realistic perspective of what our country’s security needs are."—Henry Mark Holzer, Front Page Magazine

"[Dershowitz’s] book is valuable for its discussion of the moral, legal and humanitarian constraints on an open, democratic society unused to dealing with the challenges posed by unscrupulous terrorists."—David Capitanchik, International Affairs

“You can love him or hate him, but Dershowitz is always worth reading. . . . Strongly recommended.”—Library Journal

"Alan Dershowitz’s latest book could not be more timely. . . . An outstanding study that dares to think the unthinkable and to move beyond the conventional wisdom that has thus far failed Western societies in their battle against terrorism."—Efraim Karsh, London Sunday Telegraph

"Dershowitz brings to his brief on terrorism a clarity of vision impelled by a sense of outrage and an advocacy that is as clear as his perceptions."—Arnold Ages, Midstream: A Monthly Jewish Review

"Unambiguous, detailed and well-reasoned."—Deborah L. Acomb, National Journal

"Dershowitz has a great deal to say—and to teach us—about the balance we are now struggling to achieve between domestic security and civil liberty."—Barry Gewen, New York Times Book Review

“These penetrating arguments force readers to consider how we got to September 11, how far we are willing to pursue terrorists and how much freedom we are willing to give up for our security.”—Publishers Weekly

"The issues raised in this provocative and thoughtful book are as good a start as any."—Alan Judd, Spectator

“In this book, a distinguished American professor of law brings to bear his 40 years of thinking and writing about terrorism, crime and justice. He has no easy answers, but he writes with honesty and clarity."—Charles Osborne, Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Dershowitz makes a compelling case. . . . The book is as provocative as the title promises."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The most useful part of Dershowitz’ book is his searching discussion of the challenges of fighting terrorism while preserving cherished values of civil liberties and human rights. The author need make no disavowals of expertise here. His analysis reflects years of wrestling with the moral and legal questions involved; it is deep, clear and fair."—Paul R. Pillar, The New Leader

"A bold and thoughtful work."—The New York Jewish Week

“Provocative, challenging. . . . Dershowitz raises tough moral and legal questions about collective punishments imposed on large populations for the deeds of their leaders and the use of torture on suspected terrorists.”—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"A provocative, well-written book, destined to become a major source for understanding this modern plague."—Aaron Leibel, Washington Jewish Week

“In this lively and important book, Alan Dershowitz weaves together arguments and observations from history, political philosophy, religion, international relations and law to make his case for what we must do to combat terrorism. A powerful and provocative presentation.”—Akhil Reed Amar, Professor of Law, Yale University

Chosen as an "Outstanding" title in the 2002 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries
ISBN: 9780300101539
Publication Date: August 11, 2003
288 pages, 6 x 9

Sales Restrictions: World excluding Australia and New Zealand