SECRET SOLDIERS: Special Forces in the War Against Terrorism

Peter Harclerode, Author, Mike Dewar, Author, Mike Dewar, Joint Author . Cassell $29.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-304-35507-5

Over the past 30-some years, political splinter groups throughout the world increasingly have used terrorism to advance their goals, resulting mostly in murder, public outrage and manhunts, rather than the realization of political or economic goals. The reason, says Harclerode (Unholy Babylon, etc.), a former member of Britain's Irish Guards, is that governments around the world have poured an enormous effort into fighting fire with fire. With a nod to younger readers who may not remember the origins of airplane hijackings, this exhaustive survey of British, U.S. and other counterterrorist units and missions includes a detailed tutorial on the emergence of terrorism, before heading into a blow-by-blow account of the events leading to 1976's Operation Thunderball, when crack Israeli troops rescued hostages from a hijacked airliner at Entebbe, Uganda. Here we also watch the unfolding of Operation Nimrod in 1980, when British Special Air Service troops rescued hostages held captive inside the Iranian embassy in London. Heavy on violence and acronyms, the work underscores the point that terrorists do indeed terrorize but that, ultimately, they lose. Their tactics are not tolerated by established governments, and are heavily countermanded by highly trained troops. Harclerode's presentation is at times weighty; one endless chapter runs to nearly 100 pages. But this is a complex topic that clearly has been thoroughly researched here, and the author's valuable overview puts horrifying events in perspective. Photos. (June)

Forecast:The main hypothetical argument for a U.S. missile shield's deployment is terrorism. As one of the most thorough overviews of conventional counterterrorism techniques and engagements, this book may draw those trying to think through their positions, though the heavily U.K. perspective makes it less enticing.

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Paperback - 620 pages - 978-0-304-36379-7
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