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No Compromise
Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?
Steven Best, Ph.D., Anthony J. Nocella, II
Reviewed by Michael Hansen


II must admit that I am not partial to books about animal rights and rarely can I justify time spent perusing the writings of animal rights proponents. I am not a fan of self-proclaimed and self-aggrandizing “experts” on animal issues—especially those who position themselves as authorities on the underground. With this caveat and the suggestion that the over abundance of praise from peers be omitted in subsequent editions, I believe Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? begins to fill a largely unfilled niche that is needed in our movement today more than ever.

To engage myself in reading a book of nearly 400 pages packed with debate, information and rhetoric about animal liberation was a daunting task for this animal rights activist. My hope is that those new to the movement and those desiring to learn more about our shadowy sisters and brothers of the underground won’t be intimidated by the length of the collected works.

The editors were undoubtedly faced with a daunting task to create an “anthology of writings on the history, ethics, politics, and tactics of the Animal Liberation Front.” With its amalgamation of activist rhetoric and scholarly analysis, the inclusiveness of the anthology is testament to Best and Nocella’s effort to provide a wide range of authors and perspectives. And they accomplish just that.

Maxwell Schnurer’s, “At the Gates of Hell: The A.L.F. and the Legacy of Holocaust Resistance,” exemplifies a refreshing blend of scholarly thought and revolutionary idiom. In distinctively paralleling animal liberation with the Jewish resistance fighters of World War II, Schnurer eloquently asserts that, “any notion that liberation from mindlessness simply requires information suggests a shallow comprehension of a very complex problem.”

To this end, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? succeeds in bringing together authors who clearly and critically inform the debate on whether wearing a mask in the night and applauding the destruction of institutions of exploitation justifiably relegates one to the status of a “terrorist.”

Contained within is some new insight from fresh faces and a breadth of knowledge from seasoned and respected activists. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? couples academic thought with inspiration reminiscent of Memories of Freedom, Against all Odds and Free the Animals.

Nocella genuinely asks that we adopt an interpretive approach—to look through the lens of the group being studied—when trying to understand the A.L.F. and its objectives. The diversity of positions throughout the book is an earnest and conscientious attempt at this. Ultimately, there is no better way to understand the A.L.F. than by becoming the A.L.F. I can only hope that readers will be inspired to add their own personal and clandestine final chapter to Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? by going out and doing just that… becoming the A.L.F.