Cover image for The new terrorism : fanaticism and the arms of mass destruction
The new terrorism : fanaticism and the arms of mass destruction
Laqueur, Walter, 1921-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
vii, 312 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6431 .L35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The destruction of the World Trade Towers demonstrates the horrifying consequences of a terrorist strike. But as technological advances make weapons of mass destruction frighteningly easy to acquire, a revolution is occurring in the very nature of terrorism--one that may make these attackslook like child's play. In The New Terrorism Walter Laqueur, one of the foremost experts on terrorism and international strategic affairs, recounts the history of terrorism and, more importantly, examines the future of terrorist activity worldwide. Laqueur traces the chilling trend away from terrorism perpetrated bygroups of oppressed nationalists and radicals seeking political change to small clusters of fanatics bent on vengeance and simple destruction. Coinciding with this trend is the alarming availability of weapons of mass destruction. Chemical and biological weapons are cheap and relatively easy to makeor buy. Even nuclear devices are increasingly feasible options for terrorists. And with the information age, cyber terrorism is just around the corner. Laqueur argues that as a new quasi-religious extreme right rises, with more personal and less ideological motivations than their left-wingcounterparts, it is only a matter of time before the attainability of weapons of mass destruction creates a terrifying and unstable scenario. From militant separatism in Kashmir to state-sponsored extremism in Libya and ecoterrorism in the West, The New Terrorism offers a thorough account of terrorism in all its past and current manifestations. Most importantly, it casts a sober eye to the future, when the inevitable marriage oftechnology and fanaticism will give us all something new to think about.

Author Notes

Walter Louis Laqueur was born in Breslau, Germany on May 26, 1921. At the age of 17, he fled just a few days before Kristallnacht and found his way to Palestine, where he was known as Ze'ev. He worked briefly on a kibbutz before moving to Jerusalem, where he spent a year enrolled in the Hebrew University and covered the Middle East as a journalist. In 1955, he moved to London, where he was a founder and editor of The Journal of Contemporary History and a founder of Survey, a foreign affairs journal. From 1965 to 1994 he was director of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, a leading archive in London.

He became a scholar of the Holocaust, the collapse of the Soviet Union, European decline, the Middle East conflict, and global terrorism. He wrote numerous books including A History of Zionism, A History of Terrorism, The Terrible Secret, Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, and The Future of Terrorism: ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Alt-Right written with Christopher Wall. His memoirs included Thursday's Child Has Far to Go; Worlds Ago; Best of Times, Worst of Times; and Reflections of a Veteran Pessimist. He was also the editor of The Holocaust Encyclopedia. He died on September 30, 2018 at the age of 97.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Laqueur's descriptive survey of terrorism touches on all geographic locales of religio-political violence over the past 125 years. Supplying a quantity of detail suited for the student-researcher, Laqueur spools up the various threads that come together in particular terrorist incidents. The explanations for them include the stated grievance of the perpetrators, their psychology, and their ideologies. The anarchists and the People's Will of Tsarist Russia initiated the relativistic intellectual arguments for terrorism that extend up to the present. Though contemporary assassins or bombers really have no new arguments, they have innumerable causes and potential access to a frightful variety of destructive means, described in Jessica Stern's The Ultimate Terrorists [BKL Ja 1 & 15 99]. Laqueur discusses weapons, too, but concentrates more on the actors and their acts, be they Tamil Tigers, IRA Provos, American groups left and right, or Islamists claiming (dubiously) religious sanction, as in the unending atrocities in Algeria and elsewhere. A handy integration of the background and present face of the terrorist phenomenon. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

Laqueur's volume is one of the better accounts of post-Cold War terrorism coming from the "Terrorism Industry." As in his past efforts, Laqueur admirably connects current events and personalities with a historical record of terrorism and addresses issues surrounding terrorism sources, motivations, and effects. The strength of this account rests in his survey of the factors of post-Cold War terrorism as seen from the perspective of the national security establishment. These factors include weapons of mass destruction, right-wing terrorism, state terror, terror and organized crime, and religion and terrorism. Laqueur also speculates on the future of terrorism, postulating that it is here to stay in one form or another. Unfortunately, the book's weaknesses are glaring. Although Laqueur's treatment of the sources of terrorism appears inclusive, and though he presents his study as dealing with terrorism in general, his analysis is partial at best, limited to terrorist events and actors that target the Western establishment, most importantly the US. In almost all cases it is a matter of "rounding up the usual suspects" of anti-Western terrorism and placing them in the post-Cold War context. His one concession is his treatment of American right-wing terrorism and violence by elements of the American Christian community. Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty collections. B. Grosscup California State University, Chico

Table of Contents

Terrorism and History
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Terrorist Motives: Marx, Muhammad, and Armageddon
Terror and the Far Right
Religion and Terrorism
State Terrorism
Exotic Terrorism
Terrorism and Organized Crime
Terrorism Today and Tomorrow
Terrorism of the Future
Bibliographical Essay