According to a British intelligence report leaked to the press in 2007, al Qaeda operatives are planning a large-scale attack 'on par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki'. How likely is it that terrorists will develop the capability of such an attack? No one understands the nature of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism better than Brian Michael Jenkins - one of the world's most renowned experts on terrorism. For more than thirty years, he has been advising the military, government, and prestigious think tanks on the dangers of escalating terrorism. Jenkins goes beyond what the experts know about terrorists' efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, nuclear black markets, 'suitcase bombs', and mysterious substances like red mercury to examine how terrorists themselves think about such weapons. Jenkins' informed and seasoned analysis will give all Americans a level-headed understanding of the real situation and teach us how not to yield to nuclear terror.
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(230mm x 155mm x 32mm)
Publisher: Prometheus Books
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US Kirkus Review »
This oddly disjointed inquiry into the world of nuclear terrorism contains sporadic nuggets of wisdom.Jenkins (Unconquerable Nation, 2006, etc.) combines his knowledge of terrorism with private briefings from intelligence officials to provide an earnest, meandering historical take on the difficulty terrorists face in going nuclear. An insightful chapter describes obstacles to procuring authentic enriched plutonium or uranium in the "world of shadows" that is the nuclear black market. Preceding it, a chapter about the restraints terrorists impose on themselves ends with the chilling comment, "Over time...the constraints erode." The author's main point is that groups like al-Qaeda succeed in terrorizing us not by actually detonating nuclear devices, but by threatening do so. Jenkins convincingly shows that Russia's nuclear arsenal is well protected and there is no evidence that al-Qaeda has been successful in obtaining Russian-made suitcase bombs or the imaginary superdetonator, red mercury. But al-Qaeda does not need to possess a nuclear bomb, the author argues. The fear of a nuclear attack, fueled by the savvy al-Qaeda publicity machine and a sensationalist, story-driven media industry, is more effectively debilitating. The U.S. government has been inadvertently complicit with the terrorists, Jenkins avers, by promoting a message of fear since 9/11. However, the author contributes to the sensationalism with a poorly sketched chapter positing a nuclear detonation in Manhattan that casts the reader as president and asks how "you" will react. The author aims to convey the limited range of options available when the perpetrators are unknown, but instead provides an amateurish story outline barely suitable for tabloid television, with an unprepared president surrounded by unsure, non-technical advisors. Ultimately his cop-out conclusion is that "we cannot do more than guess" at the answer to the question posed by the book's title.Educational but uneven. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Brian Michael Jenkins
Brian Michael Jenkins (Los Angeles, CA), one of the world's leading authorities on terrorism, is a senior advisor to the president of the RAND Corporation, director of the National Transportation Security Center of the Mineta Transportation Institute, and a member of the board of Commercial Crime Services of the International Chamber of Commerce. He is frequently quoted in the media, including Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications.