The West's Road to 9/11 is a detailed and scholarly account of the chronic lack of consistency, over the three decades leading up to 9/11, in the handling of the challenge of terrorism by the West. Leaders of apparently very different persuasions are depicted without fear or favour as 'soft' on terrorism. Carter is judged to have been weak and vacillating in the face of Iranian militants; Reagan is shown to have been a friend of insurgents in both Nicaragua and Afghanistan; Thatcher is depicted as irresolute and inconsistent in her treatment of many of those that she characterised as terrorists in Northern Ireland or Southern Africa; and Clinton and Blair emerge as the heroes of Kosovo's armed insurgents. A work so lacking in loyalty to either liberal or neo-conservative icons will inevitably draw criticism from many directions. But few readers, even when they disagree, will fail to be stimulated by David Carlton's trenchant judgements.

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