Synopses & Reviews
In this revelatory new account, national security historian Timothy Naftali relates the full back story of America’s attempts to fight terrorism. On September 11, 2001, a long history of failures, missteps, and blind spots in our intelligence services came to a head, with tragic results.At the end of World War II, the OSS’s X-2” department had established a seamless system for countering the threats of die-hard Nazi terrorists. But those capabilities were soon forgotten, and it wasn’t until 1968, when Palestinian groups began a series of highly publicized airplane hijackings, that the U.S. began to take counterterrorism seriously. Naftali narrates the game of catch-up” that various administrations and the CIA played with varying degrees of successfrom the Munich Games hostage-taking to the raft of terrorist incidents in the mid-1980s through the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and up to 9/11.In riveting detail, Naftali shows why holes in U.S. homeland security discovered by Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1986 were still a problem when his son became President, and why George W. Bush did little to fix them until it was too late. Naftali concludes that open, liberal democracies like the U.S. are incapable of effectively stopping terrorism. For anyone concerned about the future of America’s security, this masterful history will be necessaryand eye-openingreading.
"Blind Spot is that rare phenomenon: a great work of original research on a subject of great importance that is also lucidly written." Wall Street Journal
"[A] rich chronological analysis that allows for comparisons across different administrations and demonstrates that the shortcomings of the country's counterterrorism policy are long standing." Foreign Affairs
"[B]road and unbiased analysis of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, one that will undoubtedly serve as a valuable resource for policymakers working to fix the problems that still beset the nation's counterterrorism bureaucracy."
New Republic Online
"[A]n engaging and impressively comprehensive history of American counterterrorism ...should become essential reading as we chart our way forward." Commentary
The story of the first international antiterrorism effort under Franklin D. Roosevelt and why it collapsed five decades before the appearance of Osama bin Laden The inside story of Richard Nixon's handling of the 1972 Munich Olympics tragedy based on interviews and newly released Presidential tapes including the CIA's relationship with the mastermind of the Munich massacre Why Dick Cheney discouraged Gerald Ford from paying much attention to terrorism in the 1970s An analysis of terrorism in Lebanon and the intelligence failures that resulted in Americans being taken hostage U.S., embassies being bombed, and American lives lost The inside story of the Ronald Reagan's and George H. W. Bush's, War on Terrorism (1986-1992) and the reasons for its successes and failures The inside story of the investigation of Pan Am 103 and why the U.S. government did not retaliate against Libya, despite evidence that it had planed the attack Why the U.S. failed to address transnational terrorism even after the first World Trade Center bombing The complete story of how Al Qaeda exploited the weaknesses in U.S. security How the Presidential Election of 2000 helped in weakening America's defenses against terrorism
This damning history of America's counterterrorism efforts since World War II including missed opportunities and lessons unlearned that led to 9/11 reveals why liberal democracies are ineffective at stopping terrorism.
About the Author
Timothy Naftali is associate professor and director of the Presidential Recordings Program and Kremlin Decision-Making Project at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the history of intelligence in Europe and America, the presidency of John F. Kennedy, and World War II and Nazi war crimes. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard and has taught at Yale, Harvard and the University of Hawaii. He lives in Charlottesville, VA, and Washington, DC.