University of Pennsylvania Press 2016
New Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network December 14, 2016 Shannon Nash
In Misunderstanding Terrorism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016) Marc Sageman provides an important reassessment of the global neojihadi threat to the West. He argues that inaccurate evaluations of the threat and overreactions to a limited threat have transformed U.S. society. By constructing a model to explain the turn to political violence, Sageman shows how a misunderstanding of terrorism in the West has dramatically inflated fear of the actual danger posed by neojihadis. This has led to overreaction of the counterterrorist community, which has resulted in threats to fundamental civil liberties. Sageman makes the distinction that the vast majority of political protestors are not violent and he expands on the conditions that may turn some members of an imagined community from talking about violence to engaging in violence. The book brings realistic numbers into the assessment of the threat facing the West and concludes with straightforward policies to end the threat instead of perpetuating it.