Terrorism in the 20th Century

Jay Robert Nash, Author
Jay Robert Nash, Author M. Evans and Company $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-87131-855-8
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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Biographies come in various degrees of difficulty: there are subjects about whom much is known and those about whom little is known. And then there are a handful of subjects such as the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal, whose life has been based on elaborate deception. Carlos, born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez 49 years ago in Venezuela, led a childhood and youth so outlandish that even a novelist might have shunned such incredible material. While still in his teens, Carlos achieved the status of a highly trained revolutionary with the encouragement of his leftist father. Linking himself to Palestinian terrorists, Carlos began accepting murderous assignments throughout the world, killing innocent people because of their religious affiliations or their political views. After detailing Carlos's crimes, Follain turns to the campaign by various intelligence agencies (including the CIA) to capture the terrorist, a campaign that resulted in his capture in the Sudan by French counterespionage agents in 1994. (He is currently imprisoned in France.) French journalist Follain (A Dishonoured Society) can be applauded for attempting such an ambitious project, but huge (if often understandable) gaps in his research, far-fetched psychologizing and clunky writing sabotage this biography of a saboteur. (Nov.) FYI: Carlos is identified as ""the most feared international terrorist"" of the 20th century in Jay Robert Nash's Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative Encyclopedia from the Anarchists through the Weathermen to the Unabomber. (M. Evans, $24.95 paper 456p ISBN 0-87131-855-5; Dec.)
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