Synopses & Reviews
9/11 almost instantaneously remade American politics and foreign policy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, water boarding and Guantanamo are examples of its profound and far-reaching effects. But despite its monumental impact — and a deluge of books about al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorism — no one has written a serious assessment of the man who planned it, Osama bin Laden. Available biographies depict bin Laden as an historical figure, the mastermind behind 9/11, but no longer relevant to the world it created. These accounts, Michael Scheuer strongly believes, have contributed to a widespread and dangerous denial of his continuing significance and power.
In this book, Scheuer provides a much-needed corrective--a hard-headed, closely reasoned portrait of bin Laden, showing him to be a figure of remarkable leadership skills, strategic genius, and considerable rhetorical abilities. The first head of the CIA's bin Laden Unit, where he led the effort to track down bin Laden, Scheuer draws from a wealth of information about bin Laden and his evolution from peaceful Saudi dissident to America's Most Wanted. Shedding light on his development as a theologian, media manipulator, and paramilitary commander, Scheuer makes use of all the speeches and interviews bin Laden has given as well as lengthy interviews, testimony, and previously untranslated documents written by those who grew up with bin Laden in Saudi Arabia, served as his bodyguards and drivers, and fought alongside him against the Soviets. The bin Laden who emerges from these accounts is devout, talented, patient, and ruthless; in other words, a truly formidable and implacable enemy of the West.
This propulsive biography is not bin Laden for beginners but its central point is clear. Scheuer (Imperial Hubris) chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999 argues that the West chronically underestimates bin Laden’s “piety generosity personal bravery strategic ability charisma and patience.” In creating a cartoonish enemy the U.S. has “mindlessly” played into bin Laden’s plans to provoke a war on Muslim soil to catalyze a jihad to “obliterate America from within by making it economically weak until its markets collapse.” The depiction of bin Laden’s evolution from devout student to militant leader is deeply detailed and dense and readers unable to keep up with a dissection of Islam’s diverse creeds and doctrines will feel overwhelmed at times but Scheuer’s project is lucid and important. Bin Laden “anticipated a war of attrition that might last decades” and has planned ahead. He has cultivated a multigenerational cadre of between 5000 and 7000 loyal warriors many from the educated upper classes. The conflict with al Qaeda will by bin Laden’s design likely be multigenerational and Scheuer takes a crucial step in revealing how the West keeps itself vulnerable by persisting in demonizing rather than understanding its formidable opponent. (Feb.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"This propulsive biography is not bin Laden for beginners, but its central point is clear. Scheuer (Imperial Hubris), chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, argues that the West chronically underestimates bin Laden's 'piety, generosity, personal bravery, strategic ability, charisma and patience.' In creating a cartoonish enemy, the U.S. has 'mindlessly' played into bin Laden's plans to provoke a war on Muslim soil to catalyze a jihad to 'obliterate America from within, by making it economically weak, until its markets collapse.' The depiction of bin Laden's evolution from devout student to militant leader is deeply detailed and dense, and readers unable to keep up with a dissection of Islam's diverse creeds and doctrines will feel overwhelmed at times, but Scheuer's project is lucid and important. Bin Laden 'anticipated a war of attrition that might last decades' and has planned ahead. He has cultivated a multigenerational cadre of between 5,000 and 7,000 loyal warriors, many from the educated upper classes. The conflict with al-Qaeda will, by bin Laden's design, likely be multigenerational, and Scheuer takes a crucial step in revealing how the West keeps itself vulnerable by persisting in demonizing rather than understanding its formidable opponent. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Pulls few punches -- a fascinating window on America's war with Al Qaeda."New York Times
"No serious observer of the war on terrorism can ignore this scathing critique." Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc.
"A powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration's failed efforts to fight it." Washington Post Book World
"Presents overwhelmingly persuasive evidence to buttress a host of significant and controversial arguments." Atlantic Monthly
On July 22, 2011, a bomb went off outside government buildings in Oslo, Norway, killing eight people and injuring more than two hundred. Less than two hours later, a gunman claimed sixty-nine lives in a shooting spree at a summer camp on the island of Utøya, while terrified and desperate youths tried to hide or swim to the mainland to escape. Massacre in Norway
is the first detailed, hour-by-hour account of the two sequential terrorist attacks by lone-wolf terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.
To inform his literary reportage, Stian Bromark compiled interviews with survivors, police officers, government employees, boatmen rescuers, and others who experienced the attacks—the deadliest in Norway since World War II. Massacre in Norway provides crucial, in-depth context for the story, including a riveting background portrait of Breivik, the right-wing extremist the police arrested, charged, and convicted of the crime, as well as a history of the Labor Party youth camp on Utøya and its significance in the countrys political landscape. An epilogue covers the trial in 2012 and interviews with the survivors.
Massacre in Norway delivers an insightful portrayal of the darkest day in modern Norwegian history.
About the Author
Michael Scheuer was the chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999 and remained a counterterrorism analyst until 2004. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism. He lives in the Washington, DC area.