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Thread: Recommended Reading?

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    Council Member ProfessorB's Avatar
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    Default Recommended Reading?

    In the spring 2008 quarter I've been asked to teach a class entitled "Terrorism and Homeland Security." Any recommendations for an accessible book on terrorism for undergraduates? I'm more interested in a "what" is terrorism book (i.e., one pitched at a more strategic level) than a "who" are the terrorists book.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorB View Post
    In the spring 2008 quarter I've been asked to teach a class entitled "Terrorism and Homeland Security." Any recommendations for an accessible book on terrorism for undergraduates? I'm more interested in a "what" is terrorism book (i.e., one pitched at a more strategic level) than a "who" are the terrorists book.
    The first edition of "Introduction to Homeland Security" by Bullock et.al. was about Homeland Security response to Terrorism the new one is much more detailed about all hazards response. It might be better to just drop the idea of Homeland Security and look at terrorism.

    What exactly are you thinking of as learning objectives?

    Though not a text book, "Countering the new terrorism", Lesser et.al.: (1999) RAND 151 pages ISBN 0-8330-2667-4 is a good book for undergraduates. It is a bit dated but discusses how 9/11 could occur. A bit chilling actually.
    Chapters include Trends in Terrorism, Terrorist Tactical Adaption, Force Protection, Implication of Anti-Terrorism.
    It took me three hours to read it.

    The 9/11 report is really good for a after action report.

    It kind of depends on who your students are and what you want to accomplish with them.
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    Council Member ProfessorB's Avatar
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    All good questions. I can't drop "Homeland Security" from the name because that's the name it was born with; I'm going to try to make the class a survey of how states respond to terrorism -- in a sense, a course on strategic counter-terrorism (but this is a general undergrad, not grad and/or policy, class). I used the first Bullock and have the second, plus another from the Butterworth series, but they are toooooooooo technical. I can see the All-Hazards Model as an element in a lecture, but this is Pol Sci course, not a public polic one.

    I'd actually like an updated version, or recent similar book, to the Lesser RAND study.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I did some research and came up with some possibilities.

    I haven't read them yet so it's a shot in the dark.

    Exploring Terrorist Targeting Preferences
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG483/

    Combating Terrorism
    How Prepared Are State and Local Response Organizations?
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG309/

    Of course RAND has an entire section called..... "Terrorism and Homeland Security"
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/online/terrorism/
    Sam Liles
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    I've found "What Terrorists Want" by Louise Richardson to be quite interesting. It disccusses terrorist motivations, morality and issues in counterterrorism.

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    Default Recommended Reading

    Try Inside Terrorism (The Revised and Expanded Edition) by Bruce Hoffman

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorB
    In the spring 2008 quarter I've been asked to teach a class entitled "Terrorism and Homeland Security." Any recommendations for an accessible book on terrorism for undergraduates? I'm more interested in a "what" is terrorism book (i.e., one pitched at a more strategic level) than a "who" are the terrorists book.
    If you are specifically looking at terrorism only in the current context, then I recommend this two-volume RAND series, published last November:

    Beyond Al-Qa'ida Part 1 - The Global Jihadist Movement

    Beyond al-Qaeda Part 2 - The Outer Rings of the Terrorist Universe

    The material broadly covers al-Qa'ida and its affiliates, as well as non-affiliated Islamist radicals, non-Islamist extremists and criminal organizations outlining their ideological foundations and strategic and operational objectives. It also ties in how each of these groups poses - or may pose - a threat to the United States. These are good, basic texts, suitable for the type of course you describe. However, being basic texts, they offer no real insights, nor do they delve into any of the organizations covered in detail. For an SME, this will be disappointing reading - for a student new to the subject, its a good starting point.

    If you want to look at "what" is terrorism from more of an historical context, to put the current threat into perspective, I recommend a different pair of books. Walter Laquer's The Age of Terrorism - an outstanding wide-ranging study - and the accompanying Terrorism Reader (an anthology of brief texts ranging from Aristotle and Plutarch to 19th century Anarchists, the IRA and Hezballah). However, you may have a bit more difficulty finding copies of these.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTSIDER View Post
    Try Inside Terrorism (The Revised and Expanded Edition) by Bruce Hoffman
    I recommend this book as well. I'm about halfway through it for a class I'm taking and its pretty good. I've pasted the table of contents below:

    1. Defining Terrorism
    2. The End of Empire and the Origins of Contemporary Terrorism
    3. The Internationalization of Terrorism
    4. Religion and Terrorism
    5. Suicide Terrorism
    6. The Old Media, Terrorism, and Public Opinion
    7. The New Media, Terrorism, and the Shaping of Global Opinion
    8. The Modern Terrorist Mind-set: Tactics, Targets, Tradecraft,
    and Technologies
    9. Terrorism Today and Tomorrow
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Good suggestions -- thanks everyone. I'll use the Xmas break to start working thru them

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    "Read Thinking Like a Terrorist" by Mark German a former FBI undercover agent. The book starts off great and shows how all radicalization processes are the same. I don't agree with everything in the book especially towards the end but all in all a very informative book.

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    Default Two more

    I'd recommend the film, available on DVD now, The Battle of Algiers. Quite a controversial film when released and now regarded as a classic - with many lessons for today. Saw an article in a learned journal recommending it, now cannot recall the source.

    Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bat..._Algiers_(film)

    Secondly, although again not reading material, the very short powerpoint by Jeff Jonas is very telling and for an American audience more so:

    http://jeffjonas.typepad.com/SRD-911-connections.pdf

    davidbfpo

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    I have been researching Homeland Security very seriously for about 6 months now. There are no general audience books written on the subject, although there are some text books. I hope to fill that void within the next year or two. I have a whole lot of government documents, newspaper, magazine articles, if you want them, let me know.

    Also, since davidbfpo mentioned the battle of Algiers, I would check out the the Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad, especially his essay "Counterinsurgency." Ahmad actually served in the Algerian NLF but turned down and opportunity to serve in the government, wanting instead to be an intellectual. I imagine radical post-colonial studies aren't all that popular at Small Wars Journal but Ahmad, regardless of what you think of his politics, had intimate access to the "other" side of many definitive conflicts of the Cold War and really, despite his lefty reputation, was a critical independent voice. He was critical of the US's Middle East strategy as well as what he called the "twin curse" of nationalism and religious fanaticism in such countries as Pakistan. He made a lot of enemies on both sides of many conflicts but he was always offered well researched and very critical analysis. Also I think it would make the class epistemologically more complete (and honest) by including a nonwhite voice from the formerly colonized world.
    Last edited by relative autonomy; 11-19-2007 at 12:11 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Also I think it would make the class epistemologically more complete (and honest) by including a nonwhite voice from the formerly colonized world.
    You would think this would be axiomatic - it'd be a bit silly to study the American Revolution only through the writings of British officers. But yet so much of our study of COIN comes from just such a stovepipe perspective.

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    Also worth looking at is Brian Jenkins' Unconquerable Nation, especially chapter 5. (Especially like that it's gratis, I hate making students by expensive textbooks that are marginal at best.) Saving City Lifelines is a little more narrow in scope but well done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorB View Post
    In the spring 2008 quarter I've been asked to teach a class entitled "Terrorism and Homeland Security." Any recommendations for an accessible book on terrorism for undergraduates? I'm more interested in a "what" is terrorism book (i.e., one pitched at a more strategic level) than a "who" are the terrorists book.
    I've found this book to be a valuable resource. The Table of Contents page provides limited insight to your potential application of this book in the class.

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    Here are three that I found to be tremendous reads:
    1. "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill" by Jessica Stern
    2. "The Age of Sacred Terror" by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon
    3. "Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America" by Anonymous (later revealed as Michael Scheuer)

    There are several others out there, but these three will definitely keep the students interested, particularly Stern's book.
    Semper Fidelis,
    Last edited by Bodhi; 12-18-2007 at 02:46 AM.

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    Default Freedom Fighter's Anonymous

    Some great stuff posted thus far.

    I second davidbfpo’s DVD recommendation (it’s available on Amazon). To complement it:

    The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria 1955-1957 by Paul Aussaresses

    A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

    A complement to Stern’s book: Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence by Mark Juergensmeyer

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    Default Understanding Terror Networks By Marc Sageman


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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    FYI: Sageman has a new book out this month called Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    FYI: Sageman has a new book out this month called Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century.
    Got it!!! Interesting
    Sam Liles
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    The scholarship of teaching and learning results in equal hatred from latte leftists and cappuccino conservatives.
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