The Longest War by Peter Bergen
The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

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Synopsis

TEN YEARS HAVE PASSED since the shocking attacks on the World Trade Center, and after seven years of conflict, the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq—only to move into Afghanistan, where the ten-year-old fight continues: the war on terror rages with no clear end in sight. In The Longest War Peter Bergen offers a comprehensive history of this war and its evolution, from the strategies devised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond. Unlike any other book on this subject, here Bergen tells the story of this shifting war’s failures and successes from the perspectives of both the United States and al-Qaeda and its allies. He goes into the homes of al-Qaeda members, rooting into the source of their devotion to terrorist causes, and spends time in the offices of the major players shaping the U.S. strategic efforts in the region. At a time when many are frustrated or fatigued with what has become an enduring multigenerational conflict, this book will provide an illuminating narrative that not only traces the arc of the fight but projects its likely future.

Weaving together internal documents from al-Qaeda and the U.S. offices of counterterrorism, first-person interviews with top-level jihadists and senior Washington officials, along with his own experiences on the ground in the Middle East, Bergen balances the accounts of each side, revealing how al-Qaeda has evolved since 9/11 and the specific ways the U.S. government has responded in the ongoing fight.

Bergen also uncovers the strategic errors committed on both sides—the way that al-Qaeda’s bold attack on the United States on 9/11 actually undermined its objective and caused the collapse of the Taliban and the destruction of the organization’s safe haven in Afghanistan, and how al-Qaeda is actually losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world. The book also shows how the United States undermined its moral position in this war with its actions at Guantánamo and coercive interrogations—including the extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar, who was kidnapped by the CIA in Milan in 2003 and was tortured for four years in Egyptian prisons; his case represents the first and only time that CIA officials have been charged and convicted of the crime of kidnapping.

In examining other strategic blunders the United States has committed, Bergen offers a scathing critique of the Clinton and Bush administrations’ inability to accurately assess and counter the al-Qaeda threat, Bush’s deeply misguided reasons for invading Iraq—including the story of how the invasion was launched based, in part, on the views of an obscure academic who put forth theories about Iraq’s involvement with al-Qaeda—and the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan.

At a critical moment in world history The Longest War provides the definitive account of the ongoing battle against terror.
 

About Peter Bergen

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Peter Bergen is the director of the National Securities Studies Program at the New America Foundation, and is National Security Analyst at CNN. He is the author of The Longest War and The Osama Bin Laden I Know.Katherine Tiedemann, co-editor, was a research fellow at the New America Foundation until mid-2011. She is the deputy editor of the AfPak Channel on ForeignPolicy.com, where she writes the AfPak Daily Brief, a daily synthesis of the news from and about Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
Published January 11, 2011 by Free Press. 496 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But Bergen argues that bin Laden’s greatest triumph was also the ruination of al-Qaeda, making him the target of the most relentless manhunt of our time and forcing his followers to the margins of civilized society.

Nov 01 2010 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

The New York Times

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“If Vietnam had been the first television war, and the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s armies had been the first cable news war, Iraq was the first Web war,” he notes in an aside that a smart graduate student could expand into a good doctoral dissertation.

Jan 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

The New York Times

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analyst Michael Scheuer, Mr. Bergen argues that the Iraq war represented “the very type of imperial adventure that bin Laden had long predicted was the United States’ long-term goal in the region.” Moreover, he notes, it “deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden had long despised,” i...

Jan 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

The Guardian

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Bergen Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop This is not the first time Bergen has had to field such startling questions about al-Qaida or Islamic militancy in g...

Feb 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

Publishers Weekly

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Bergen (The Osama bin Laden I Know), CNN's national security analyst, revisits the personality and career of the al-Qaeda leader and his immediate circle, while delving into the conflict between al-Qaeda and associates and the U.S. and its coalition.

Oct 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

Los Angeles Times

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(Elsewhere, the author has referred to U.S. foreign policy and both political parties as "wholly-owned subsidiaries" of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the state of Israel.) The fact is that Bin Laden's — and Saudi Arabian — anti-Semitism, which Scheuer acknowledges, is so deeply...

Feb 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

The Telegraph

As Peter Bergen tells us in The Longest War, his informative survey of the war on terror, an al-Qaeda video from 1996 shows a small white dog being experimented on with chemical weapons.

Mar 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

Zimbio

Bergen This is not the first time Bergen has had to field such startling questions about al-Qaida or Islamic militancy in general.

Feb 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

Portland Book Review

Asking hard questions like “Why were Americans persuaded that there was an alliance between Saddam and bin Laden?” and “Why is (was) it so hard to find bin Laden?” Bergen provides answers using, among other sources, military tribunal transcripts and criminal case documents, plus several hundred i...

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

London School of Economics

← Hague bumbles over Libya, police pay is subject to penny-pinching and Cameron is asked how he sleeps at night: political blog round up for 5 – 11 March 2011 Book Review: The Family: A Liberal Defence →

Mar 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

International Affairs Review

With The Longest War , journalist Peter Bergen (author of Holy War, Inc.

Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Longest War: The Enduring...

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