The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism


144 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-896357-75-X
DDC 322.4'2





Jason Gregory Zorbas is a sessional lecturer in the Department of
History at the University of Saskatchewan.


Terrorism is a word that is as loaded with meaning as it is ambiguous.
In The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism, Jonathan Barker not only provides
a definition but also examines types of terrorism, their historical
roots, and contemporary uses by nations and organizations. It is an
ambitious exercise, especially considering the spatial constraints that
he is operating under.

Barker adopts the definition of terrorism provided by Boaz Ganor that
“terrorism is the intentional use of, or threat to use violence
against civilians or civilian targets, in order to attain political
ends.” This definition implicates the United States and other former
colonial powers as nations that have used and continue to use terrorism,
as well as implicating the nations and organizations that the West
commonly accepts as proponents of terrorism, such as Cambodia (when the
Khmer Rouge were in power) and al-Qaeda.

Terrorism has a long history and, though it is often overlooked, a high
success rate. Furthermore, the justifications for terrorism are as
varied as the groups and nations that employ it. Therefore, the solution
to preventing terrorism is not only military action but also a
diplomatic and economic response to the many factors that lead to the
acceptance of terrorism as a tool for change.

The lack of detail Barker provides for his solution is easily forgiven
considering the length of the book. What is harder to overlook is his
anti-Western bias. The frank discussion he rightly calls for also needs
to acknowledge the non-Western terrorist activities that receive very
little coverage in his manuscript. In addition, he glosses over a number
of historical controversies in an effort to make his point. For example,
the validity of European attempts at germ warfare through the
distribution of small pox blankets to Native Americans is challenged by
a number of prominent scholars.

Despite these reservations, The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism is an
excellent introduction to a highly pertinent and controversial issue.
Anyone who feels overwhelmed by the amount of media coverage and
conflicting interpretations of terrorism should buy and read this book.


Barker, Jonathan., “The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,