Alan Judd

Nasty questions that need asking

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WHY TERRORISM WORKS

Alan M. Dershowitz

Yale, pp. 271, £

Prominent in any contemporary dictionary of received opinion should be the assumption that all terrorism has 'root causes' that render violence 'understandable' because the aggrieved have 'no alternative'. It comes with all the shock and invigoration of a cold bath to find someone arguing against this contemporary shibboleth.

Alan Dershowitz believes that the assumption of 'root causes' smacks more of

after-the-fact political justification than inductive scientific inquiry