- By Caleb Carr

The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians

  • Title: The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians
  • Author: Caleb Carr
  • ISBN: 9780375760747
  • Page: 432
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Lessons of Terror A History of Warfare Against Civilians Military historian Caleb Carr s groundbreaking work anticipated America s current debates on preemptive military action against terrorist sponsor states reorganization of the American intelligence sy

    Military historian Caleb Carr s groundbreaking work anticipated America s current debates on preemptive military action against terrorist sponsor states, reorganization of the American intelligence system, and the treatment of terrorists as soldiers in supranational armies rather than as criminals Carr s authoritative exploration demonstrates that the practice of terrorisMilitary historian Caleb Carr s groundbreaking work anticipated America s current debates on preemptive military action against terrorist sponsor states, reorganization of the American intelligence system, and the treatment of terrorists as soldiers in supranational armies rather than as criminals Carr s authoritative exploration demonstrates that the practice of terrorism, employed by national armies as well as extremists since the days of ancient Rome, is ultimately self defeating Far from prompting submission, it stiffens enemy resolve and never leads to long lasting success.Controversial on its initial publication in 2002, The Lessons of Terror has been repeatedly validated by subsequent events Carr s analysis of individual terrorist acts, and particularly of the history of the Middle East conflict, is fundamental to a deep understanding of the roots of terrorism as well as the steps and reforms that must be taken if the continuing threat of terrorist behavior is to be met effectively today and, finally, eradicated tomorrow.

    1 thought on “The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians

    1. Caleb Carr's analysis of the workings of terrorism, which he wrote after the 9/11 attacks and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan but before the invasion of Iraq, is clear, well organized, and compelling. He makes an eloquent case for seeing terrorism as counterproductive as well as immoral, whether practiced by groups like Al Qaeda or by nations either in the course of fighting wars or in the ways the CIA and KGB have used it at times. The book explains the idea of limited war, as seen in actions [...]

    2. This book had an overall concise and full of accounts of how terror has evolved (there was even talk that nothing changed over time just our ways of killing mass number of people with a push of a button). While I like how Carr went a bit wider than just focusing on how America rose to stardom (granted, a lot of their power was achieved through warfare), I did not like how some sentences seemed to go on forever, often containing bunch of clunky smart-sounding words that left me confused. Here are [...]

    3. There were several very good things about this book. First, Carr gives a very concise, readable history of terror through the ages, the growth and ultimate descent into incompetence of the US intelligence establishment (the story of James Forrestal was a new one on me) and I could note no overt bias in terms of one political party or theory over any otherough I'm not so sure about Carr and American "Exceptionalism." Sometimes it seems like he believed it, other times not. Now the bad thing: I su [...]

    4. Originally purchased for me by my wife as joke after my post-9/11 reaction, I decided to finally read it as I have been getting more into military books, religiously reading news magazines, and feeling at least mildly learned in the fields of global politics. Although this provides a nice summary of the wars of the past 2000 years, there are two main thoughts I am left with, 1 of which the format of the book helps create: the whole book is 255 pages and Carr is trying to provide an overview to a [...]

    5. Carr is a much better novelist than analyst. I will try to update this review later, but a few thoughts for now:1. He advocates assassination as an effective state policy while amazingly failing to acknowledge that assassination-as-state-policy creates the same dangers to its sponsors as the state-sponsored terrorism he denounces.2. His implied definition of "failure" is so vague as to be useless. What does it mean it mean to say the Roman Empire's ferocious punishment of civilians in warfare fa [...]

    6. The beginning of this book is tough. I did not enjoy it. The author makes a point, then spends to long making the same point over and over. The middle of the book is good, except that when the author gets to Clausewitz, he tears him apart. The author points out that Clausewitz was NOT a progressive war type. I disagree. Clausewitz made it clear matching political goals to military goals at best is one and the same; and those who do are often successful. The end of the book is terrible. It seems [...]

    7. This essay-length book argues that warfare against civilians always fails because the civilian community (tribe, nation, civilization) strike back at the warriors, given enough time. As The eXile's War Nerd (John Dolan) correctly asks on , what about the American Indians? Warfare against them succeeded admirably. Strategic bombing in World War II may or may not have been useless, but the Germans and the Japanese did not strike back at the Allies because of it. I am not a specialist in military h [...]

    8. This book is about the proper response to terrorism and, although it makes some interesting points, it is riddled with historical distortions and flawed arguments. It was also written before the invasion of Iraq and makes a case for invading Iraq which, of course, events have subsequently rebutted completely. Anyway, while I like his writing style, LOT is about 50% longer than it should be.

    9. This was a definite split decision.While the various points the author raised were interesting and valid the scathing abusive vitriol he spewed so freely upon organizations (CIA) and individuals--including the deceased, effectively reduced the academic validity and legitimacy of his writing.Academically speaking I was appalled at his rude and obnoxious tirades. This was a shame given that many of the points he raised had merit. Expressions such as ".gant, operations happy denizens of Langley Vir [...]

    10. In spite of some fo the negative reviews here, I think it was an excellent book. I was worried it would be a right wing screed against bleeding heart liberals allowing Islamo-fascism to take over the world unless we nuke the bastards, but it is a well reasoned historical treatise that makes some very good points.I wish the critics had posted what their actual objections were to his history or his analysis, since I don;t se it.His premise is that terrosism- targeting civilians specifically to man [...]

    11. The authors purpose of writing this book was to inform. Caleb Carr (being the author) was trying to tell the reader the past of terrorism against civilians. When I say civilians i mean the countries own civilians. The United States using terrorism against people from the United States for instance. Caleb Carr has many degrees in military history and things like that, so the book was probably mainly to inform. I think that the main theme of this book involved the moral choices in life. Especially [...]

    12. Even if you don't like history, this book might blow your mind a little bit.Military history has never been my strong suit; however Carr's work makes such a topic not only readable, but relevant. He sets out to trace the origins of terrorism and warfare on civilian populations-- along the way he makes some intriguing points about how we arrived at modern warfare.The sheer amount of material Carr has managed to cover in less than 300 pages is enough to make any historian cringe; there aren't many [...]

    13. Not normally the sort of book I’d read (This is a fairly brief – for the timespan dealt with – overview of terrorism, which Carr defines as deliberate attacks directed against civilians, whether by military or other civilians, through the ages), but I thought I’d give it a try, since I enjoy his historical fiction. He does have a tendency here to either gloss over (or assume a fair amount of knowledge on the part of the reader) some fairly complex issues, but I think that a lot of his re [...]

    14. A brilliant treatise on the history of terrorism. News media and politicians continually refer to the present day in which we live as the "post 9/11" world and speak of the rise of terrorism as being a unique, modern development in world affairs. Carr's book, written shortly after 9/11, shows us that this is not the case at all, giving us an expansive and oftentimes horrific history of deliberate warfare against civilians and non-combatants as a ruthless and cold means to a political end. What o [...]

    15. I had heard good things about Carr's fictional work prior to getting this book, but never read any. (Still haven't.) But I found this book very unique. In the shadow of 9/11, this book makes a very soulful argument that terrorism will generally always undo itself. He also talks about how we should "devise a style of war more imaginative, more decisive, and yet more humane than anything terrorists can contrive." I find this quote sums up the mixed feelings I had about this book when I read it, my [...]

    16. A VERY illuminating read from the acclaimed writer of The Alienist. The Lessons of Terror very simply - and chillingly - points out the myriad of similarities between how war was fought throughout history and how it is today. Carr also goes on to explain his somewhat optimistic hypothesis that the tactic of using terror against civilians always fails.The Lessons of Terror, in my opinion, makes an excellent companion read with one of my favorite books: Howard Zinn's A People's History of The Unit [...]

    17. An utterly enlightening read - puts the phenomena of contemporary terrorism in crystal clear context of its evolution from the earliest uses of terror by the Romans. Its historical and jargon-free perspective is refreshing and all its conclusions are presented with unambiguous clarity, while some of them are quite shocking and revealing.

    18. A tight look at warfare against civilian populations starting with the Romans and coming to the September 11 attacks in the US. Carr makes a great many valid points about the futility of waging war on innocent bystanders. It's highly readable for laypersons and a page turner, though gramatically someone should teach him what a split infinitive is and how to edit his sentences.

    19. I great look at the history of warfare and how terror has played a substantial part in it's evolution. From prehistoric tribal warfare to modern times, Carr has passionately collected these essays that examine terror as strategy. My only criticism is that Carr's fervor intermittently colors otherwise factual accounts. Regardless, it's still a good read, one I'd recommend to others.

    20. A very interesting analysis of the use of terrorism & some of the theories of warfare throughout the ages. It questions US tactics, which some readers will probably not appreciate. I think everyone should read this book--especially following on the heels of George W. Bush's spectacularly failed presidency.

    21. After spending 7 months of my life as a juror on a terrorism trial I sought to understand the motivations behind the actions of the four men on trial. Caleb Carr's book was tremendously helpful in understanding how one person's ideology can be used to wreck death and destruction p. innocent human beings.

    22. This is Carr at his worst. He uses all the trappings of scholarly language, but none of the substance. He skips from subject to subject, war to war, without ever giving the impression that he's doing anything more than citing examples that agree with him. He misuses terms (canon vs. gun, e.g.) and never stops long enough to dwell on anything that might undermine his skimpy thesis.

    23. Well written and encouraging and discouraging at the same time. The good news is those who engage in terror do not win in the long run. The bad news is that America has to resist responding to terror with terror and we, as a nation, do not have a good record on that score.

    24. I can remember reading this years ago and found myself nodding my head most of the way through. At the time Carr's ideas were more novel than they would be considered today. For the uninitiated, however, it would still be a good read.

    25. A readable and fascinating history of terrorism going back to the Roman empire. Carr's basic thesis is that, overall, terrorism fails miserably at its long-term objective--and often produces the opposite effect.

    26. Carr is an excellent writer and seems to have done some very good research in this book, but the conclusions he draws from that research are unsupported and, in my opinion, unsupportable.

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