This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Nigel Copsey.
Kathleen M. Blee, Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003, 272 pp., 19.95 USD, ISBN 0520240553 (pbk).
Alana Jeydel (
This book is the first study of women inside the Racist
movement in the
Via in-depth interviews with 34 women from the Hate movement, Blee seeks to uncover what led these women to join the movement and what their place in the movement is. Blee skillfully incorporates passages from her interviews into the text, while being careful not to glorify the actions of these women. She convincingly notes the ways in which gender has shaped women’s experiences and roles in the movement. For example, in her discussion of women’s accounts of being a racist, she notes that while male racial activists find their activism empowering, women “feel hopeless about the ‘degenerate’ society that surrounds them and the possibility of changing it” (p.50).
Important contributions of Blee’s study are that recruitment into racist groups is not markedly different than recruitment into churches, mainstream social movements and the like. Further, members of these racist groups do not necessarily come from racist backgrounds. And finally, members of racist groups do not have a greater familiarity or uniform acceptance of their group’s ideologies than members of political parties, religions and the like do of their’s. Blee’s study does not leave the reader wondering what can be done about the hate movement. In her conclusion, Blee outlines five main lessons that she learned from her interviews and each lesson points to a strategy that could help stop organized racism.
This is an important and useful read for anyone studying extreme right-wing movements and is particularly useful to those scholars who are interested in women’s roles in such movements.
Walter Laqueur, No End to War: Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century.
Reviewed by Pete Lentini (
Walter Laqueur’s many insightful publications on terrorism make him justifiably one of the field’s most respected commentators. No End to War retains many of the elements that have distinguished his previous work. The book is rich in examples from comparative politics and history. Laqueur engages with literature and popular culture. This enhances our understandings of terrorist organisations’ operations and contextualises the social, political and cultural circumstances from which they have emerged.
No End to War builds up from the themes he addresses in his important The New Terrorism (1999): i.e. religious and nationalist fanaticism and terrorists’ potential use of weapons of mass destruction are transforming terrorism. Moreover, he contends that terrorism, because of its relative cost-effectiveness, may become the dominant mode of conflict. No End to War is best considered as a sequel to The New Terrorism. Indeed, it would be difficult to set the book under review as an independent text for students new to terrorism. For instance the content on the far right presupposes readers have an advanced knowledge of these themes. Nevertheless, there are parts that would be quite useful for undergraduate terrorism courses: the chapter on roots of terrorism, especially the challenge to poverty as its main cause; the overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the examinations of conspiracies, and the selections on battlefields of the future.
More problematic perhaps, is the chapter on intelligence failures, particularly the logic of lumping scholars’ and media’s failures to understand Islamist terrorism in the same chapter. Furthermore, it also somewhat detracts from the book’s thematic flow. Finally, while Laqueur often praises Islam (e.g., p. 27), he presents a somewhat skewed picture of Islam in Europe, stressing separatism, while often ignoring civic participation.
Henriette Riegler (Austrian Institute for International Affairs,
The book presents 17 case studies of local capacity building in the Yugoslav successor states. By basically explaining the wars in the Former Yugoslavia as wars of homogenizing nationalism it is the multiethnic composition of the communities that comes into focus. It does, however, not become clear if the multiethnic structure is seen as a problematic feature of local communities or an innocent victim of these wars.
The book itself is a very heterogeneous mix. It takes a look at communities that were multinational and ones that became so as a result of war. It examines communities that have been nationalist war targets and ones that did not experience the destruction of their multiethnic structure by large scale violence. It also looks at countries with a different degree of nationalist mobilization, ones that attacked and ones that were attacked. Next to reports on local clubs and initiatives are policy studies on refugee return and the transfer of local political authority.
The organization of the book in country chapters is not particularly clarifying because very diverse papers as regards content are put together under one country heading. It is also the quality of the various papers that differs tremendously, some are highly analytical academic papers others are more like ad hoc evaluation reports. Nonetheless, for anybody interested in the distinctive features of the local socio-political arenas of the Former Yugoslavia the book is valuable reading not least because of the wealth of information that it contains.
Szajkowski (ed.), Revolutionary and
Dissident Movements of the World,
Reviewed by Cas Mudde (
In this fourth edition of the famous handbook on
revolutionary and dissident movement Bogdan Szajkowski has again collected a
diverse team of contributors including both country and topic specialist and
generalists. According to the introduction, the volume is to be seen as a
“companion” to the Political Parties of
the World (5th edition) of Alan Day. However, whereas that
handbook deals exclusively on legal political parties, “the focus of Revolutionary and Dissident Movements of the
World is on “groups which seek to challenge, by extra-legal means, most
commonly violent, the stability of the state. Its coverage includes movements
seeking autonomy or secession, groups of the extreme left or right acting
outside the constitutional framework, proscribed parties, and
governments-in-exile, as well as terrorist organizations with a pan-national
agenda” (p.vii). Oddly enough, the editor’s introduction addresses mainly the
rise of Islamist terror groups and the post-9/11 responses to them by the
As with all such broad-scoped reference texts, one can
easily find detail errors and question certain inclusions or exclusions; for
example, the Belgian chapter includes virtually only organisations which have
been defunct for years as well as the Arab European League, which doesn’t
qualify according to the above description (it is a legal and non-violent
movement). More generally, the chapters on relatively stable, smaller democracies
are not particularly insightful, but this is well compensated by the very
interesting and comprehensive entries on such countries as
In conclusion, this fourth edition of Revolutionary and Dissident Movements of the World is still the essential reference work on the topic and a must for every (resourceful) university library.
Stein Ugelvik Larsen (ed), Fascism Outside Europe: The European Impulse Against Domestic Conditions in the Diffusion of Global Fascism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001, 750 pp., 86.00 USD, ISBN: 0880339888 (hbk).
Reviewed by Aristotle Kallis (
The volume Fascism Outside Europe, edited by Stein Ugelvik Larsen, is a remarkable achievement – not just on the basis of its length or exclusive treatment of the subject but also because of the editor’s brilliant, if slightly overlong, concluding essay. Of course, Larsen has already established a solid reputation for one of the most comprehensive comparative works on generic fascism as editor and author alike. In fact, Fascism Outside Europe may be regarded as the follow-up to his pioneering similar work Who Were the Fascists, published in 1980 and co-edited with Bernt Hagtvet and Jan Petter Myklebust, which covers all permutations of European fascism alongside Larsen’s superb comparative essay.
The premise of this volume is as clear as that of its
predecessor: to provide breadth of coverage, whereby as many case-studies as
possible are examined, and thus establish an analytical framework for
comparison. This Larsen does exceptionally well in the hundred or so pages of
his own contribution, although one is left wondering whether this admirable
synthesis could have been achieved in a more concise and precise manner. It is
Be that as it may, Larsen’s contribution provides
another restatement of his own particular interpretation of the preconditions
for the rise of ‘fascism’, which he and his collaborators now export to the
study of extra-European case-studies. According to the editor, the uneven
advance of the modernisation-liberalisation processes creates two major
possibilities for fascism. Viewed from this angle, fascism is neither rooted in
particular national traditions, nor is it exhausted in any account that focuses
on a particular region (
Overall, the volume makes sense and puts forward a
case that is hard to dismiss even for the most ardent supporters of a
Euro-centric approach to fascism. The list of contributors resembles a
definitive line-up of academic heavyweights of every facet of fascist studies.
The structure of the volume opts for an interesting, semi-thematic division
between theoretical and empirical sections. In the former case, the
contributions of Roger Griffin and Roger Eatwell complement each other very
well, establishing a framework for generic enquiry that places the fascist
phenomenon in a decidedly diachronic dimension. The section on the diffusion of
the fascist experience from
The sheer scale of its coverage aside, the strongest
contribution of the volume lies in charting the trajectories of fascist
diffusion and analysing the complexities of transferral and adaptation of a
historically particular template to such varied national contexts. The danger
of presenting the fascist experience outside