The War Against the Terrorists: How to Win It

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Charter, 1987 - Social Science - 256 pages
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Gayle Rivers names names, identifies the link between terrorist groups, tells who their leaders are and how to use currently available means to prevent terrorist acts by these and other groups. By the counterterrorist whose shocking true story, The Specialist, became a New York Times bestseller.

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Gayle Rivers (pseudonym) stopped writing books in 1990. It is perhaps impossible to know what happened to him, but he may have died doing what he does. Regardless of where he is, it is unfortunate that he is not around and offering commentary in the wake of terrorism since 9/11.
I would regard this book as a classic, and is particularly interesting for those who grew up with 9/11, for we see that terrorism was by no means anything new, and there were demands even back then for far more action against it. The fact that there is a focus on the middle-east even at this times is in no way not shattering to our post-9/11 minds. The book also sheds light on the number of hijackings there actually were (including the number that ended with absolute death to all passengers, plane, or multiple planes) in the 70's and 80's. It is a fascinating glimpse back into what it must have been like in the 1980's. The early security procedures, all of them before the post 9/11 stuff. The coverage of mid-east terror is fascinating in historical perspective, and Rivers' coverage of host nations is important circa 1987 is important.
Overall, Rivers stresses the importance of special forces in handling counterterrorist attacks (he states approximately 250 men would be required to handle it sufficiently) and large-scale military tactics as useless or harmful. He puts a special point on prevention, as well, and overall his demand for international cooperation on this matter is admirable, appropriate, and moving in the sense of the increasing equality and globalization of the world that we see today. This book was written in 1987. As a Canadian, I take special reverence with this New Zealander who has put his life on the line to fight terrorism in countries all over the world, and giving special attention to the United States and its unique role & difficulties.
As for whether he's real (a question I was unfortunate enough to glimpse in an internet scan), I don't find it believable. There are heartfelt, personal moments (his ending analogy of the stake on his teenage New Zealand farm, for example) that I choose to accept as evidence of a man who was special forces, deniable too all governments, but was encouraged by his colleagues to write about what they felt the world needed to hear.
There are some questionable moments, like the discrete revealing of counterrorist methods and weaponry, but I suppose there is good reason to not see that as a threat or else Rivers would not have seen it fit to include it.
4.5/5 stars


The Man behind the Terrorist Mask
Countering Terrorism
Amateurs and Professionals

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