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Business Confronts Terrorism: Risks and Response

Business Confronts Terrorism: Risks and Response. By Dean C. Alexander; published by the University of Wisconsin Press, 773/702-7000 (phone),; 242 pages; $35.

Be forewarned: This book does not contain specific security advice. Don't be put off, however. Author Dean C. Alexander has written an effective high-level overview of how terrorist organizations have infiltrated modern society and turned society's apparatuses against the very people who helped develop them.

This book continues in the same vein as 2002's Terrorism and Business: The Impact of September 11, 2001 (reviewed in this column in January 2003). Alexander coauthored that work with Yonah Alexander, and the new book can be considered a companion volume to the previous one.

Up front, Alexander writes that the book focuses on three main issues: terror threats and the role terrorists play in the economic system, business and public-private antiterrorism efforts, and terror's impact on business. Indeed he does explore all three issues, but from quite a distance. The scope is broad but detail is thin.

Alexander looks at several sectors of the economy, including commercial aviation, travel and entertainment, and finance, and how they continue to be affected by terrorism. What should be an eye-opener for many readers are the particulars of how terrorists both attack businesses and use those very same institutions--primarily financial organizations--to fund further attacks.

As noted, the author doesn't offer specific security advice but rather provides a broad overview of potential responses. In a chapter entitled "Security," for example, readers won't get a detailed explanation of risk assessment or security-hardware installation. They are simply challenged to "assess prospective threats and undertake security upgrades to reduce such threats." Not the most helpful advice for readers, but Alexander never promised those details.

Despite the lack of specific advice, the book provides important information and is well-written, clear, and concise. It is a worthwhile read for most security and law enforcement professionals.

Reviewer: Glen Kitteringham, CPP, has worked in the security industry since 1990. He holds a master's degree in security and crime risk management from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. He is a member of ASIS International's Commercial Real Estate Council.