Front Burner by Kirk Lippold
Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole

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On October 12, 2000, eleven months before the 9/11 attacks, the USS Cole docked in the port of Aden in Yemen for a routine fueling stop.  At 1118, on a hot, sunny morning, the 8,400-ton destroyer was rocked by an enormous explosion. The ship’s commander, Kirk Lippold, felt the ship violently thrust up and to the right, as everything not bolted down seemed to float in midair. Tiles tumbled from the ceiling, and the ship was plunged into darkness, beginning to sink. In a matter of moments Lippold knew that the Cole had been attacked. What he didn’t know was how much the world was changing around him. The bombing of the Cole was al Qaeda’s first direct assault against the United States and expanded their brazen and deadly string of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. In this gripping first-person narrative, Lippold reveals the details of this harrowing experience leading his crew of valiant sailors through the attack and its aftermath. Seventeen sailors died in the explosion and thirty-seven were wounded—but thanks to the valor of the crew in the perilous days that followed, the ship was saved. Yet even with al Qaeda’s intentions made clear in an unmistakable act of war, the United States government delayed retaliating. Bureaucrats and politicians sought to shift and pin blame as they ignored the danger signaled by the attack, shirking responsibility until the event was ultimately overshadowed by 9/11. Front Burner captures a critical moment in America’s battle against al Qaeda, telling a vital story that has—until now—been lost in the fog of the war on terror.


About Kirk Lippold

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Commander Kirk Lippold was the commanding officer of the USS Cole during Al Qaeda's attack in October 2000. Lippold's personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon, among others. He retired from the Navy in 2007 and remains active in current events and national security affairs. He lives in Carson City, Nevada.
Published April 10, 2012 by PublicAffairs. 410 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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There follows nearly 200 pages of exhaustive description of the devastating damage, the crew’s heroic response, which saved the ship from sinking, and 20 days of assistance, repairs, politics and investigation that did not end when the Cole returned to the United States.

Mar 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Atta...

Huffington Post

Kirk Lippold is telling his story in a new book, "Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole."

Apr 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Atta...

Huntington News

As I was finishing "Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole" (PublicAffairs, 408 pages, 8-page photo insert, index, notes, $27.99) Commander Kirk S.

May 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Atta...


For more than a decade critics—some of them family members of the 17 sailors killed when a terrorist suicide bomb boat in Aden, Yemen, struck Commander Kirk Lippold's guided missile destroyer USS Cole in October 2000—have pointed to those tenets in blaming Lippold for security lapses that allowed...

May 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Atta...

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