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Osama: The Making of a Terroristby Jonathan Randal
Synopses & Reviews
How is it possible for one middle-aged Saudi millionaire to threaten the world's only superpower? This is the question at the center of Jonathan Randal's riveting, timely account of Osama bin Laden's role in the rise of terrorism in the Middle East. Randal — a journalist whose experience of the Middle East spans the past forty years — makes clear how Osama's life epitomizes the fatal collision between twenty-first-century Islam and the West, and he describes the course of Osama's estrangement from both the West and the Saudi petro-monarchy of which his family is a part. He examines Osama's terrorist activities before September 11, 2001, and shows us how, after the attack on the World Trade Center, Osama presented the West with something new in the annals of contemporary terrorism: an independently wealthy entrepreneur with a seemingly worldwide following ready to do his bidding. Randal explores the possibility that Osama offered the Saudis his Al-Qaeda forces to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991; he traces the current sources of Osama's money; and he tells us why the Iraq war has played into the hands of the terrorists.
With his long-maintained sources in the Middle East and his intimate understanding of the region, Randal gives us a clearer explanation than any we have had of the whys and wherefores of the world's most prominent and feared terrorist.
"This study of the terrorist leader is an outstanding achievement, especially in light of the inherent difficulty in writing at length about so elusive a man, who rarely appears in public, has left few written traces yet has a larger-than-life stature. Randal, a veteran Middle East correspondent, triumphs over this challenge and succeeds in presenting bin Laden's life as representative of a larger regional narrative. Randal gives a thorough and penetrating look into the different stages of bin Laden's life and how each battle hardened his resolve, deepened his sense of struggle and intensified his anger. Randal is systematic in outlining the failures and miscalculations of the U.S. in its attempts to contain and thwart bin Laden — most notably, Clinton's series of bombings in Afghanistan and Sudan, which, in failing to kill bin Laden, led many Muslims to believe that Allah had saved him and boosted his reputation hugely. Randal's writing is lively and rich, and he conveys complicated developments with ease and often grace. At one point he cleverly characterizes Osama as 'a cross between the president of the Jihad Incorporated money machine and the head of a maverick Ford Foundation dispensing seed-money grants of a very special nature.' Full of sharp prose (Osama as a 'Muslim Samson' who 'brought the temple down on his Taliban hosts') and shrewd assessments, this is a trenchant look into the life and mindset of one of the world's most mysterious, menacing and important figures." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Provides details that have not been widely circulated....A masterful work of reporting, and of great importance in understanding the rise of modern Islamic terrorism and its singular personification." Kirkus Reviews
"Though much of the material in Osama is familiar from earlier books and newspaper and magazine articles, the volume does a nimble and often highly compelling job of leading the reader through the labyrinth of information and speculation..." Michiku Kakutani, The New York Times
"[D]etailed and compelling....This is a fascinating, informative look at the man considered the foremost terrorist threat to the U.S." Booklist
"Osama is Randal's third book, and even if it contains relatively little new about Osama bin Laden himself, there are enough interesting asides drawn from a lifetime of reporting in the Middle East to make it a worthwhile venture." Robert D. Kaplan, The Washington Post
"Randal does a good job at helping the reader sort through these Middle Eastern nations and gain understanding of their relationships with each other....And yet, Osama, the man, remains as elusive in these pages as he does in the world." Mary J. Elkins, Rocky Mountain News
"[H]ighly readable and engaging....
About the Author
Jonathan Randal is a former correspondent for the Washington Post.
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