In This Review

The Age of Terrorism
The Age of Terrorism
By Walter Laqueur
Little, Brown, 1987, 385 pp
The Never-Ending War: Terrorism in the 80s
The Never-Ending War: Terrorism in the 80s
By Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne
Facts on File, 1987, 356 pp
Invisible Armies: Terrorism into the 1990s
Invisible Armies: Terrorism into the 1990s
By Stephen Segaller
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987, 311 pp

All three of these books, which together take us from the distant past into the 1990s, have considerable merit without presuming to have many answers, and without being in full agreement with one another. Laqueur's book, an extensive revision of his earlier work Terrorism (1977), is rich in historical background, full in coverage of events and coldly realistic. He believes there has been far too much mythology and loose thought on the subject; that Western governments have given it more attention than it deserves; and that endeavors by "experts" to define terrorism, to find its causes and patterns and to derive therefrom policies to counter it are largely wasted effort. In The Never-Ending War, two British journalists who have made a specialty of writing about terrorism attempt to put it all together in one comprehensive volume, complete with a "who's who of terror" and a chronology covering the years 1968-1986. Their book is crammed with facts, and is readable and informative, with some comment on causes and remedies, although there is, as they rightly say, no cure. Stephen Segaller also tries to get behind the current hysteria and probe into and understand the various terrorist types. He recognizes that terrorism is in most cases a political problem requiring more than a good intelligence service and effective police action. A veteran British observer, he is quite skeptical of the common American tendency to see the Soviet Union as the source and supporter of worldwide terrorism.