This is a fascinating book, but it isn’t about al-Qaeda attacks on any US university, or even its sympathisers in American higher education. As the author explains: “So far, no jihadist terror attacks have been directed at US universities.” What Castagnera writes about are the ways in which the “War on Terror” has affected what universities do and how they do it.
His thesis is as simple as it is cheering. “The war on terror”, he writes, “has been a double-edged sword as far as higher education is concerned.” It has led “on the one hand (to) a loss of innocence”, owing to “the inexorable, irresistible demand for ever-tighter security measures”. But on the other, it has provided “an enormous windfall for many colleges and universities”, defined in terms of better campus security, large amounts of government funding for terrorism-related research and generous gifts to academia from Saudi Arabia.