Osama Bin Laden by Michael Scheuer

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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.
Acclaim for Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism
"Pulls few punches...a fascinating window on America's war with Al Qaeda."
--Michiko Kakutani, 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."
--Richard A. Clarke, Washington Post Book World
"A fire-breathing denunciation of U.S. counterterrorism policy."
--Julian Borger, The Guardian
"Presents overwhelmingly persuasive evidence to buttress a host of significant and controversial arguments."
--Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly
"Destined to become a classic in the field of counterterrorism analysis."
--Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism

About Michael Scheuer

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Michael Scheuer is a twenty-plus-year CIA veteran. From 1996 to 1999, he served as the Chief of the bin Laden unit (aka Alec Station), the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorism Center. He then worked as Special Adviser to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004. He resigned from the CIA in 2004. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, writing regularly for its online publication Global Terrorism Analysis. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.
Published January 20, 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA. 293 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Crime, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Osama Bin Laden

Kirkus Reviews

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Rightist media commentators in particular, writes Scheuer, are useless but influential—“they offer politicians an easy way out.” The author paints a careful portrait of his subjects and notes the ideological disagreements that divide elements of the Islamist movement, offering a program by which ...

Feb 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden

The New York Times

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An ex-C.I.A. bin Laden hunter worries about U.S. complacency.

Feb 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden

Post and Courier

But unlike Scheuer, Bergen thinks bin Laden overreached and badly miscalculated with the 9/11 attacks and that al-Qaida has been significantly weakened and dislocated ever since by the U.S. response.

Feb 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden

Literary Review

Nor is it yet another attempt to work out where bin Laden might be hiding, although Scheuer does show how bin Laden, an experienced mountain walker who apparently memorised every rock and gully of Tora Bora, could have slipped away with the help of the Pashtun tribes he had armed to fight the Sov...

| Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden

London School of Economics

Some lessons are being learnt from British policy in Iraq for Libya.

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden


Yet in seeking Bin Laden, the President’s poster might have read “Osama Bin Laden-wanted dead or alive.” And it did not seem likely that Bin Laden would ever have come willingly, so this priority, this determination to get Bin Laden would effectively be a death warrant.

May 18 2017 | Read Full Review of Osama Bin Laden

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