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Security
Homeland Security:   Protecting America’s Targets
Volume I: Borders and Points of Entry
Volume II: Public Spaces and Social Institutions
Volume III: Critical Infrastructure


Edited by James J. F. Forest. 1528 pp.
Praeger Security International. US$300.00
ISBN-10: 027598768X | ISBN-13: 978-0275987688

Homeland Security: Protecting America’s Targets, edited by James J. F. Forest, is a thought-provoking trilogy to which 51 authors, each with impressive expertise, have contributed. Each volume explores a different aspect of homeland security—America’s borders, public spaces and institutions, and infrastructure—from a number of angles, offering readers a detailed look at the workings and processes of one of America’s most important governmental agencies. Accessible to both experts and lay readers, these books will awaken new consciousness about the difficulty of keeping Americans safe in the age of terror.

Fifteen essays in the first volume, Borders and Points of Entry, focus on the difficulties of effectively controlling two of the longest international land borders in the world: America’s borders with Canada and Mexico. In addition to these land borders, the Department of Homeland Security is also responsible for protecting American ports and maritime points of entry, as well as illegal immigration and human trafficking. The United States has “95,000 miles of coastline, 26,000 miles of navigable inland rivers and waterways, and 6,500 miles of land borders,” making opportunities for entry into the country “almost limitless.” Illegal immigrants number in the millions each year; identifying them and determining which ones pose a threat to national security is a monumental challenge. A common theme among the writers in this volume is that both the Canadian and Mexican borders must be secured, and that America’s interactions with these two countries must be conducted with sensitivity.

Public Spaces and Social Institutions, the trilogy’s second volume, discusses the challenges posed by “soft targets” such as mid-sized American cities, schools (especially high schools and colleges), and even the Superbowl: assessing “the assumptions that are made in relation to a potential terrorist attack at a sporting event…terrorists ‘seek to focus attention on themselves and their causes through the publicity they receive’ from the media.”

America’s icons and monuments require a separate kind of protection because their purpose is to be accessible to the public; if they are barricaded and sheltered from view, we might as well not have them in the first place. As a result, considerable thought has been given to protective measures that do not make the public feel excluded or claustrophobic in public spaces that might become targets. Planters, trees, and features of the natural environment are used to create barriers for vehicles because they are attractive, low-lying, and not immediately identifiable as security measures. The writers in this volume explore homeland security in much more detail than most Americans realize even exists.

Critical Infrastructure, the final volume in Homeland Security explores the myriad obstacles to keeping America free from terrorist infiltration. “[T]here are 17 critical infrastructure sectors and key assets” including “food and agriculture, public health, water and wastewater systems, energy…emergency services, postal and shipping.” Protecting each of these requires a different approach because each is uniquely vulnerable. For example, the safety of America’s water supply may ultimately rely on the vigilance of every citizen, just as our open access to public transportation means that implementing the kind of multiple screenings now utilized by the airlines “would be highly impractical and prohibitively expensive.”

To sum up, any reader interested in terrorism and homeland security will find the three volumes of Homeland Security: Protecting America’s Targets a valuable tool for understanding the seemingly impenetrable workings of this crucial government institution. If every citizen were aware of the intricacies of security in the face of America’s vastness and diversity, we would all be safer than we are now.

The publisher, Praeger Security International, provides up-to-date and relevant material on matters of international security, including defense and foreign policy, strategy, regional security, military history, and terrorism. The editor of Homeland Security, James J. F. Forest, is one of the top experts in the field of national security. He is the Director of Terrorism Studies and a professor at the United States Military Academy.

Elizabeth Breau, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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