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"Terror at Beslan: A Russian Tragedy with Lessons for America's Schools"

September 01, 2006  |  by Elliott E. Grollman

"Terror at Beslan," by John Giduck, published by Archangel Group

Reading this book reminded me of how I felt when I viewed the film "United 93." I knew going in how it would end but, as they say, "The devil's in the details."

And "Terror at Beslan" has more details about this atrocity than you will find in any other account. Author John Giduck, through his extensive personal contacts with Russian special forces, was able to actually go to Beslan while the school was still smoking and bodies were being removed.

But "Terror at Beslan" doesn't just give you the details of the siege and assault. The first part of the book is an excellent background review of Chechen terrorism as well as a history of the special forces units of the Russian military. This background information lays the groundwork for the collision of the terrorists and the special forces units in Beslan.

The second part of the book lays out in painstaking detail how the attack unfolded, how the terrorists took over the school, and how Russian authorities responded. Giduck expertly dissects the siege and discusses the terrorists' plan as well as the government response and the aftermath of the events.

As history has taught us, terrorist attacks are not isolated events. A school siege such as the one in Beslan will happen again. There are many lessons for American law enforcement in Giduck's book.

Giduck devotes a section of his book to discuss preparing America's schools, preparing America's law enforcement, and preparing a tactical response. He makes the point of how police, military, and all parts of American society must come together to prepare for this threat.

Another item that makes this book special is that the foreword is written by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, an author known to most operators in the law enforcement and elite military field. "Terror at Beslan" is an excellent book and while there are many good things I could say about it, I think Dave Grossman says it best in the foreward when he wrote "Just don't read this book, study it. Study it and apply it. Be like the firefighter: put the risk in perspective, pray that it would never happen, know that it could happen, and work with all your heart and soul to prevent it from happening. It could be you child's life that you save.

All law enforcement personnel as well as all school officials should read this book, which was reviewed by Elliott E. Grollman.

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