Terrorism is surrounded by myths. One of the most enduring of these myths and half-truths is that terrorism never works. In the end, the state will prevail and the terrorists will either be dead or imprisoned or otherwise forced to end their campaign of violence. It is true that most terrorist groups are beaten. Within twelve months of their first attack most terrorist groups have been crushed. Within ten years half of the rest have been beaten. However, a small proportion - roughly one group in twenty - endures and incredibly goes on to win the conflict and beat the governments opposing them.
This book is about these triumphs of terror, how and why they happen and what the beaten governments could and should have done differently. It is a book about blunders and miscalculations, of the danger of underestimating a weak enemy and the hubris of empire. It encompasses tales of courage and despair, ruthlessness and tragedy, brutality and hope. In the end, it represents not just one but many warnings from history. About the care that is needed when confronted with terrorism and about just how badly events can go for even the most powerful state if they get it wrong.