Now, Denver takes you inside his personal story and the fascinating, demanding SEAL training program he now oversees. He recounts his experience evolving from a young SEAL hopeful pushing his way through Hell Week, into a warrior engaging in dangerous stealth missions across the globe, and finally into a lieutenant commander directing the indoctrination, requalification programs, and the "Hero or Zero" missions his SEALs undertake.
From his own SEAL training and missions overseas, Denver details how the SEALs' creative operations became front and center in America's War on Terror-and how they are altering warfare everywhere. In fourteen years as a SEAL officer, Rorke Denver tangled with drug lords in Latin America, stood up to violent mobs in Liberia, and battled terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Leading 200 commando missions, he earned the Bronze Star with V for valor. He has also served as flag aide to the admiral in charge and spent the past four years as executive officer of the Navy Special Warfare Center's Advanced Training Command in Coronado, California, directing all phases of the basic and advanced training that prepare men for war in SEAL teams. He recently starred in the film Act of Valor. He is married and has two daughters.
Ellis Henican is a columnist at Newsday and an on-air commentator at the Fox News Channel. He has written two recent New York Times bestsellers, Home Team with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and In the Blink of an Eye with NASCAR legend Michael Waltrip.
With all the SEALs' recent successes, we have been getting a level of acclaim we're not used to. But something important has been missing in this warm burst of publicity . Correcting that is my mission here.
My own SEAL dream was launched by a book. My hope is that this one teaches lessons that go far beyond the battlefield, inspiring a fresh generation of warriors to carry on that dream.
-Lieutenant Commander Rorke Denver
The explosive first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan
To what extent did America’s best intelligence analysts grasp the rising thread of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Ghost Wars details the secret history of the CIA’s role in Afghanistan (including its covert operations against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989), the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the failed efforts by U.S. forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Steve Coll's new book Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016 will be published in February 2018.
Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
Praise for My Promised Land
“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
With access to newly discovered primary sources from archives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and India—including a series of previously untranslated Afghan epic poems and biographies—the author gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account yet of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan: the British invasion of the remote kingdom in 1839. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed helmets, and facing little resistance, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the mountain passes from India into Afghanistan in order to reestablish Shah Shuja ul-Mulk on the throne, and as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into rebellion. This First Anglo-Afghan War ended with an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world ambushed and destroyed in snowbound mountain passes by simply equipped Afghan tribesmen. Only one British man made it through.
But Dalrymple takes us beyond the bare outline of this infamous battle, and with penetrating, balanced insight illuminates the uncanny similarities between the West’s first disastrous entanglement with Afghanistan and the situation today. He delineates the straightforward facts: Shah Shuja and President Hamid Karzai share the same tribal heritage; the Shah’s principal opponents were the Ghilzai tribe, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban’s foot soldiers; the same cities garrisoned by the British are today garrisoned by foreign troops, attacked from the same rings of hills and high passes from which the British faced attack. Dalryrmple also makes clear the byzantine complexity of Afghanistan’s age-old tribal rivalries, the stranglehold they have on the politics of the nation and the ways in which they ensnared both the British in the nineteenth century and NATO forces in the twenty-first.
Informed by the author’s decades-long firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, and superbly shaped by his hallmark gifts as a narrative historian and his singular eye for the evocation of place and culture, The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the First Anglo-Afghan War and a work of stunning topicality.
New York Times • Christian Science Monitor • NPR • Seattle Times • St. Louis Dispatch
National Book Critics Circle Finalist -- American Library Association Notable Book
A thrilling and revelatory narrative of one of the most epic and consequential periods in 20th century history – the Arab Revolt and the secret “great game” to control the Middle East
The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, “a sideshow of a sideshow.” Amidst the slaughter in European trenches, the Western combatants paid scant attention to the Middle Eastern theater. As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power.
Curt Prüfer was an effete academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment Islamic jihad against British rule. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Syria. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order gain valuable oil concessions. At the center of it all was Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in the sands of Syria; by 1917 he was the most romantic figure of World War One, battling both the enemy and his own government to bring about the vision he had for the Arab people.
The intertwined paths of these four men – the schemes they put in place, the battles they fought, the betrayals they endured and committed – mirror the grandeur, intrigue and tragedy of the war in the desert. Prüfer became Germany’s grand spymaster in the Middle East. Aaronsohn constructed an elaborate Jewish spy-ring in Palestine, only to have the anti-Semitic and bureaucratically-inept British first ignore and then misuse his organization, at tragic personal cost. Yale would become the only American intelligence agent in the entire Middle East – while still secretly on the payroll of Standard Oil. And the enigmatic Lawrence rode into legend at the head of an Arab army, even as he waged secret war against his own nation’s imperial ambitions.
Based on years of intensive primary document research, LAWRENCE IN ARABIA definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.
The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts—including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq's competing sects—are rooted in the region's political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed by the Allies after the First World War.
In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he delivers in this sweeping and magisterial book the definitive account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day.
A new afterword from Fromkin, written for this edition of the book, includes his invaluable, updated assessment of this region of the world today, and on what this history has to teach us.
Previously published as Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as they rode into the city. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn.
During a surrender of six hundred Taliban troops, the Horse Soldiers were ambushed by the would-be POWs. Dangerously overpowered, they fought for their lives in the city’s immense fortress, Qala-i-Janghi, or the House of War. At risk were the military gains of the entire campaign: if the soldiers perished or were captured, the entire effort to outmaneuver the Taliban was likely doomed.
“A riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda” (Tom Brokaw), Doug Stanton’s account touches the mythic. The soldiers on horses combined ancient strategies of cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to perform a seemingly impossible feat. Moreover, their careful effort to win the hearts of local townspeople proved a valuable lesson for America’s ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. With “spellbinding...action packed prose...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier’s secret mission remains the US military’s finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war” (USA TODAY).
In 1967, Bashir Al-Khayri, a Palestinian twenty-five-year-old, journeyed to Israel, with the goal of seeing the beloved old stone house, with the lemon tree behind it, that he and his family had fled nineteen years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house he was greeted by Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a nineteen-year-old Israeli college student, whose family fled Europe for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next thirty-five years in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967. Based on extensive research, and springing from his enormously resonant documentary that aired on NPR's Fresh Air in 1998, Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, suggesting that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and reconciliation.
For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.
This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal.
A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran's proposal for a grand bargain for peace-which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences.
Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other's biggest national security nightmares. "The Iran problem" is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.
Today, she argues, the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims can be divided into a minority of extremists, a majority of observant but peaceable Muslims and a few dissidents who risk their lives by questioning their own religion. But there is only one Islam and, as Hirsi Ali shows, there is no denying that some of its key teachings—not least the duty to wage holy war—are incompatible with the values of a free society.
For centuries it has seemed as if Islam is immune to change. But Hirsi Ali has come to believe that a Muslim Reformation—a revision of Islamic doctrine aimed at reconciling the religion with modernity—is now at hand, and may even have begun. The Arab Spring may now seem like a political failure. But its challenge to traditional authority revealed a new readiness—not least by Muslim women—to think freely and to speak out.
Courageously challenging the jihadists, she identifies five key amendments to Islamic doctrine that Muslims have to make to bring their religion out of the seventh century and into the twenty-first. And she calls on the Western world to end its appeasement of the Islamists. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” she writes. It is the Muslim reformers who need our backing, not the opponents of free speech.
Interweaving her own experiences, historical analogies and powerful examples from contemporary Muslim societies and cultures, Heretic is not a call to arms, but a passionate plea for peaceful change and a new era of global toleration. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, with jihadists killing thousands from Nigeria to Syria to Pakistan, this book offers an answer to what is fast becoming the world’s number one problem.
A TIME TO BETRAY
This exhilarating, award-winning memoir of a secret double life reveals the heart-wrenching story of a man who spied for the American government in the ranks of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, risking everything by betraying his homeland in order to save it.
Reza Kahlili grew up in Tehran surrounded by his close-knit family and friends. But the enlightened Iran of his youth vanished forever, as Reza discovered upon returning home from studying computer science in the United States, when the revolution of 1979 ushered in Ayatollah Khomeini’s dark age of religious fundamentalism. Clinging to the hope of a Persian Renaissance, Reza joined the Ayatollah’s elite Revolutionary Guards. As Khomeini’s tyrannies unfolded, as fellow countrymen turned on each other, and after the deeply personal horrors he witnessed firsthand inside Evin Prison, a shattered and disillusioned Reza returned to America to dangerously become “Wally,” a spy for the CIA.
In A Time to Betray, Reza not only relates his razor’s-edge, undercover existence from moment to heart-pounding moment as he supplies vital information from the Iran-Iraq War, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Iran-Contra affair, and more; he also documents a chain of incredible events that culminates in a nation’s fight for freedom that continues to this very day, making this a timely and vital perspective on the future of Iran and the fate of the world.
With his hallmark insight into the forces at play in the Middle East and his acclaimed journalistic skill, Lawrence Wright takes us through each of the thirteen days of the Camp David conference, delving deeply into the issues and enmities between the two nations, explaining the relevant background to the conflict and to all the major participants at the conference, from the three heads of state to their mostly well-known seconds working furiously behind the scenes. What emerges is not what we've come to think of as an unprecedented yet "simple" peace. Rather, Wright reveals the full extent of Carter's persistence in pushing peace forward, the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference--many of them lifelong enemies--attained it, and the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, not the least of which has been the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In Thirteen Days in September, Wright gives us a gripping work of history and reportage that provides an inside view of how peace is made.
Britain has invaded Afghanistan twice before in the nineteenth century. Both times tenacious Afghan fighters defended their country to humiliating British defeats. The Soviet Union also discovered what a tough enemy the Afghans are after nearly a decade of conflict from 1979 to 1989. When not fighting foreign invaders, Afghanistan was torn apart by Civil War from 1990 to 1996, resulting in victory for the Taliban.
The Afghan Wars in an Hour is an excellent way to learn all about the complex wars that have been fought in Afghanistan for almost four decades. It explains who the Taliban and the Mujahedeen are and how their politics work. It explores why Osama Bin Laden was so significant, and helps us understand why, still, it is so hard to achieve peace Afghanistan.
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour...
The easing of Israeli military censorship after four decades has enabled Abraham Rabinovich to offer fresh insights into this fiercest of Israel-Arab conflicts. A surprise Arab attack on two fronts on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, with Israel’s reserves un-mobilized, triggered apocalyptic visions in Israel, euphoria in the Arab world, and fraught debates on both sides. Rabinovich, who covered the war for The Jerusalem Post, draws on extensive interviews and primary source material to shape his enthralling narrative. We learn of two Egyptian nationals, working separately for the Mossad, who supplied Israel with key information that helped change the course of the war; of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s proposal for a nuclear “demonstration” to warn off the Arabs; and of Chief of Staff David Elazar’s conclusion on the fifth day of battle that Israel could not win. Newly available transcripts enable us to follow the decision-making process in real time from the prime minister’s office to commanders studying maps in the field. After almost overrunning the Golan Heights, the Syrian attack is broken in desperate battles. And as Israel regains its psychological balance, General Ariel Sharon leads a nighttime counterattack across the Suez Canal through a narrow hole in the Egyptian line -- the turning point of the war.
In a voice in turn eloquent, angry, reflective and darkly comic, Riverbend recounts stories of life in an occupied city—of neighbors whose homes are raided by US troops, whose relatives disappear into prisons and whose children are kidnapped by money-hungry militias. At times, the tragic blends into the absurd, as she tells of her family jumping out of bed to wash clothes and send e-mails in the middle of the night when the electricity is briefly restored, or of their quest to bury an elderly aunt when the mosques are all overbooked for wakes and the cemeteries are all full. The only Iraqi blogger writing from a woman’s perspective, she also describes a once-secular city where women are now afraid to leave their homes without head covering and a male escort.
Interspersed with these vivid snapshots from daily life are Riverbend’s analyses of everything from the elusive workings of the Iraqi Governing Council to the torture in Abu Ghraib, from the coverage provided by American media and by Al-Jazeera to Bush’s State of the Union speech. Here again, she focuses especially on the fate of women, whose rights and freedoms have fallen victim to rising fundamentalisms in a chaotic postwar society.
With thousands of loyal readers worldwide, the Riverbend blog is widely recognized around the world as a crucial source of information not available through the mainstream media. The book version of this blog will have “value-added” features: an introduction and timeline of events by veteran journalist James Ridgeway, excerpts from Riverbend’s links and an epilogue by Riverbend herself.
Yona's son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people’s traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father’s strange immigrant heritage—until he had a son of his own.
Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family’s place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world’s attention.
The story of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire is known to many readers, but the dramatic and consequential saga of the empire’s collapse remains virtually untold. It is a tale of loss that begins with the greatest loss of all, the death of the Macedonian king who had held the empire together.
With his demise, it was as if the sun had disappeared from the solar system, as if planets and moons began to spin crazily in new directions, crashing into one another with unimaginable force.
Alexander bequeathed his power, legend has it, “to the strongest,” leaving behind a mentally damaged half brother and a posthumously born son as his only heirs. In a strange compromise, both figures—Philip III and Alexander IV—were elevated to the kingship, quickly becoming prizes, pawns, fought over by a half-dozen Macedonian generals. Each successor could confer legitimacy on whichever general controlled him.
At the book’s center is the monarch’s most vigorous defender; Alexander’s former Greek secretary, now transformed into a general himself. He was a man both fascinating and entertaining, a man full of tricks and connivances, like the enthroned ghost of Alexander that gives the book its title, and becomes the determining factor in the precarious fortunes of the royal family.
James Romm, brilliant classicist and storyteller, tells the galvanizing saga of the men who followed Alexander and found themselves incapable of preserving his empire. The result was the undoing of a world, formerly united in a single empire, now ripped apart into a nightmare of warring nation-states struggling for domination, the template of our own times.
From the Hardcover edition.
By 1914 the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. In The Fall of the Ottomans, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region's crucial role in the conflict. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Gaza before the tide of battle turned in the Allies' favor. The postwar settlement led to the partition of Ottoman lands, laying the groundwork for the ongoing conflicts that continue to plague the modern Arab world. A sweeping narrative of battles and political intrigue from Gallipoli to Arabia, The Fall of the Ottomans is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Great War and the making of the modern Middle East.
Iran, 1980: the revolutionaries have taken charge. In a deserted Teheran hotel, Ryszard Kapuscinski tries to make journalistic and human sense out of the mass of notes, tapes, and photographs he has accumulated during his extended stay in Iran. Just what happened and how? What did Khomeini have to offer that the Shah, who promised to "create a second America within a generation," did not? Where did the revolution come from, and where is it going? After all this blood has been spilled, what has it given its people or the world? "We have given the world poetry, miniatures, carpets," says a rug merchant in Teheran. "We have given the world this miraculous, unique use-lessness."
Kapuscinski tells a rich story that combines factual reporting with his own impressions and reflections. Always engrossing and frequently revelatory, it is a unique portrait of the psychological state of a country in revolution.
The Shah's was a life filled with contradiction—as a social reformer he built schools, increased equality for women, and greatly reduced the power of the Shia clergy. He made Iran a global power, courting Western leaders from Churchill to Carter, and nationalized his country's many natural resources. But he was deeply conflicted and insecure in his powerful role. Intolerant of political dissent, he was eventually overthrown by the very people whose loyalty he so desperately sought. This comprehensive and gripping account shows us how Iran went from politically moderate monarchy to totalitarian Islamic republic. Milani reveals the complex and sweeping road that would bring the U.S. and Iran to where they are today.
In 1997, young Richard Engel, working freelance for Arab news sources, got a call that a busload of Italian tourists was massacred at a Cairo museum. This is his first view of the carnage these years would pile on. Over two decades he has been under fire, blown out of hotel beds, and taken hostage. He has watched Mubarak and Morsi in Egypt arrested and condemned, reported from Jerusalem, been through the Lebanese war, covered the shooting match in Iraq and the Libyan rebels who toppled Gaddafi, reported from Syria as Al-Qaeda stepped in, and was kidnapped in the Syrian cross currents of fighting. Engel takes the reader into Afghanistan with the Taliban and to Iraq with ISIS. In the page-turning And Then All Hell Broke Loose, he shares his “quick-paced...thrilling adventure story” (Associated Press).
Engel takes chances, though not reckless ones, keeps a level head and a sense of humor, as well as a grasp of history in the making. Reporting as NBC’s Chief-Foreign Correspondent, he reveals his unparalleled access to the major figures, the gritty soldiers, and the helpless victims in the Middle East during this watershed time. His vivid story is “a nerve-racking...and informative portrait of a troubled region” (Kansas City Star) that shows the splintering of the nation states previously cobbled together by the victors of World War I. “Engel’s harrowing adventures make for gripping reading” (The New York Times) and his unforgettable view of the suffering and despair of the local populations offers a succinct and authoritative account of our ever-changing world.
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.
From the earliest days of his dictatorship, Saddam Hussein had vowed to destroy Israel. So when France sold Iraq a top-of-the-line nuclear reactor in 1975, the Israelis were justifiably concerned—especially when they discovered that Iraqi scientists had already formulated a secret program to extract weapons-grade plutonium from the reactor, a first critical step in creating an atomic bomb. The reactor formed the heart of a huge nuclear plant situated twelve miles from Baghdad, 1,100 kilometers from Tel Aviv. By 1981, the reactor was on the verge of becoming “hot,” and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin knew he would have to confront its deadly potential. He turned to Israeli Air Force commander General David Ivry to secretly plan a daring surgical strike on the reactor—a never-before-contemplated mission that would prove to be one of the most remarkable military operations of all time.
Written with the full and exclusive cooperation of the Israeli Air Force high command, General Ivry (ret.), and all of the eight mission pilots (including Ilan Ramon, who become Israel’s first astronaut and perished tragically in the shuttle Columbia disaster), Raid on the Sun tells the extraordinary story of how Israel plotted the unthinkable: defying its U.S. and European allies to eliminate Iraq’s nuclear threat. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, journalist Rodger Claire re-creates a gripping tale of personal sacrifice and survival, of young pilots who trained in the United States on the then-new, radically sophisticated F-16 fighter bombers, then faced a nearly insurmountable challenge: how to fly the 1,000-plus-kilometer mission to Baghdad and back on one tank of fuel. He recounts Israeli intelligence’s incredible “black ops” to sabotage construction on the French reactor and eliminate Iraqi nuclear scientists, and he gives the reader a pilot’s-eye view of the action on June 7, 1981, when the planes roared off a runway on the Sinai Peninsula for the first successful destruction of a nuclear reactor in history.
On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. That same morning, gunmen stunned the world by seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca, creating a siege that trapped 100,000 people and lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths. But in the days before CNN and Al Jazeera, the press barely took notice. Trofimov interviews for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, and draws upon hundreds of newly declassified documents. With the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals the long-lasting aftereffects of the uprising and its influence on the world today.
In the fall of 2003, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. Over the next six years, while living in Baghdad and Beirut, she broke bread with Shiites and Sunnis, warlords and refugees, matriarchs and mullahs. Day of Honey is her memoir of the hunger for food and friendship—a communion that feeds the soul as much as the body in times of war.
Reporting from occupied Baghdad, Ciezadlo longs for normal married life. She finds it in Beirut, her husband’s hometown, a city slowly recovering from years of civil war. But just as the young couple settles into a new home, the bloodshed they escaped in Iraq spreads to Lebanon and reawakens the terrible specter of sectarian violence. In lucid, fiercely intelligent prose, Ciezadlo uses food and the rituals of eating to illuminate a vibrant Middle East that most Americans never see. We get to know people like Roaa, a determined young Kurdish woman who dreams of exploring the world, only to see her life under occupation become confined to the kitchen; Abu Rifaat, a Baghdad book lover who spends his days eavesdropping in the ancient city’s legendary cafés; Salama al-Khafaji, a soft-spoken dentist who eludes assassins to become Iraq’s most popular female politician; and Umm Hassane, Ciezadlo’s sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, who teaches her to cook rare family recipes—which are included in a mouthwatering appendix of Middle Eastern comfort food. As bombs destroy her new family’s ancestral home and militias invade her Beirut neighborhood, Ciezadlo illuminates the human cost of war with an extraordinary ability to anchor the rhythms of daily life in a larger political and historical context. From forbidden Baghdad book clubs to the oldest recipes in the world, Ciezadlo takes us inside the Middle East at a historic moment when hope and fear collide. Day of Honey is a brave and compassionate portrait of civilian life during wartime—a moving testament to the power of love and generosity to transcend the misery of war.
No less significant than the collapse of the Roman Republic or the Persian invasion of Greece, the evolution of the Arab empire is one of the supreme narratives of ancient history, a story dazzlingly rich in drama, character, and achievement. Just like the Romans, the Arabs came from nowhere to carve out a stupefyingly vast dominion—except that they achieved their conquests not over the course of centuries as the Romans did but in a matter of decades. Just like the Greeks during the Persian wars, they overcame seemingly insuperable odds to emerge triumphant against the greatest empire of the day—not by standing on the defensive, however, but by hurling themselves against all who lay in their path.
When Nonie Darwish was a girl of eight, her father died while leading covert attacks on Israel. A high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza, he was considered a shahid,a martyr for jihad.
Yet at an early age, Darwish developed a skeptical eye about her own Muslim culture and upbringing. Why the love of violence and hatred of Jews and Christians? Why the tolerance of glaring social injustices? Why blame America and Israel for everything?
Today Darwish thrives as an American citizen, a Christian, a conservative Republican, and an advocate for Israel. To many, she is now an infidel. But she is risking her comfort and her safety to reveal the many politically incorrect truths about Muslim culture that she knows firsthand.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
On the night of September 11, 2012, the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya, came under ferocious attack by a heavily armed group of Islamic terrorists. The prolonged firefight, and the attack hours later on a nearby CIA outpost, resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, the Information Officer, Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
After the fall of Qaddafi, Benghazi was transformed into a hotbed of fundamentalist fervor and a den of spies for the northern half of the African continent. Moreover, it became the center of gravity for terrorist groups strategically situated in the violent whirlwinds of the Arab Spring. On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks against the United States, a group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists had their sights set on the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence presence in the city.
Based on the exclusive cooperation of eyewitnesses and confidential sources within the intelligence, diplomatic, and military communities, Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz reveal for the first time the terrifying twelve-hour ordeal confronted by Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, his Diplomatic Security (DS) contingent, and the CIA security specialists who raced to rescue them.
More than just the minute-by-minute narrative of a desperate last stand in the midst of an anarchic rebellion, Under Fire is an inspiring testament to the bravery and selflessness of the men and women who put their country first while serving in one of the most dangerous regions in the world.
In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.
But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.
“Abraham himself,” writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith. It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief. It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry . . . To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege.” Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us, and declare: Not in God’s Name.
From the Hardcover edition.
A stunning work of investigative journalism, Cobra II describes in riveting detail how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. As Gordon and Trainor show, the brutal aftermath was not inevitable and was a surprise to the generals on both sides. Based on access to unseen documents and exclusive interviews with the men and women at the heart of the war, Cobra II provides firsthand accounts of the fighting on the ground and the high-level planning behind the scenes. Now with a new afterword that addresses what transpired after the fateful events of the summer of 2003, this is a peerless re-creation and analysis of the central event of our times.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
During the years he spent among the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, Wilfred Thesiger came to understand, admire and share a way of life that had endured for many centuries. Travelling from village to village by canoe, he won acceptance by dispensing medicines and treating the sick. In this account of his time there, he pays tribute to the hospitality, loyalty, courage and endurance of the people, describes their impressive reed houses, the waterways and lakes teeming with wildlife, the herding of buffalo and hunting of wild boar, moments of tragedy and moments of pure comedy, all in vivid, engaging detail. Untouched by the modern world until recently, these independent people, their way of life and their surroundings suffered widespread destruction under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Wilfred Thesiger's magnificent account of his time spent among them is a moving testament to their now threatened culture and the landscape they inhabit.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Issued in London in 1917, the Balfour Declaration was one of the key documents of the twentieth century. It committed Britain to supporting the establishment in Palestine of “a National Home for the Jewish people,” and its reverberations continue to be felt to this day. Now the entire fascinating story of the document is revealed in this impressive work of modern history.
With new material retrieved from historical archives, Jonathan Schneer recounts in dramatic detail the public and private fight for a small strip of land in the Middle East, a battle that started when the Ottoman Empire took Germany’s side in World War I. The key players in this conflict are rendered in nuanced and detailed relief: Sharif Hussein, the Arab leader who secretly sought British support; Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist folks-mensch who charmed British high society; T. E. Lawrence, the legendary British officer who “set the desert on fire” for the Arabs; and the other generals and prime ministers, soldiers and negotiators, who shed blood and cut deals to grab or give away the precious land.
A book crucial to understanding the Middle East as it is today, The Balfour Declaration is a riveting volume about the ancient faiths and timeless treacheries that continue to drive global events.
Yona's son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people s traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father s strange immigrant heritage until he had a son of his own.
Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family s place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world s attention.
If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.
As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home—in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.
Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future.
This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes.
From the Hardcover edition.
Lesley Hazleton's new book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto, is out now from Riverhead Books.
Muhammad’s was a life of almost unparalleled historical importance; yet for all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality.
Hazleton’s account follows the arc of Muhammad’s rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance. How did a child shunted to the margins end up revolutionizing his world? How did a merchant come to challenge the established order with a new vision of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca turn exile into a new and victorious beginning? How did the outsider become the ultimate insider?
Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazleton’s narrative creates vivid insight into a man navigating between idealism and pragmatism, faith and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. The First Muslim illuminates not only an immensely significant figure but his lastingly relevant legacy.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Here Pollack, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council official, brings his keen analysis and insider perspective to the long and ongoing clash between the United States and Iran, beginning with the fall of the shah and the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. Pollack examines all the major events in U.S.-Iran relations–including the hostage crisis, the U.S. tilt toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, the Iran-Contra scandal, American-Iranian military tensions in 1987 and 1988, the covert Iranian war against U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf that culminated in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, and recent U.S.-Iran skirmishes over Afghanistan and Iraq. He explains the strategies and motives from American and Iranian perspectives and tells how each crisis colored the thinking of both countries’ leadership as they shaped and reshaped their policies over time. Pollack also describes efforts by moderates of various stripes to try to find some way past animosities to create a new dynamic in Iranian-American relations, only to find that when one side was ready for such a step, the other side fell short.
With balanced tone and insight, Pollack explains how the United States and Iran reached this impasse; why this relationship is critical to regional, global, and U.S. interests; and what basic political choices are available as we deal with this important but deeply troubled country.
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.
Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.
All of the book award money and royalties from the sales of this book have been donated to farm worker unions, farm worker organizations and farm worker projects in consultation with farm workers who appear in the book.
Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise demonstrates the ways in which racism not only burdens people of color, but also benefits, in relative terms, those who are “white like him.” He discusses how racial privilege can harm whites in the long run and make progressive social change less likely. He explores the ways in which whites can challenge their unjust privileges, and explains in clear and convincing language why it is in the best interest of whites themselves to do so. Using anecdotes instead of stale statistics, Wise weaves a narrative that is at once readable and yet scholarly, analytical and yet accessible.
A New York Times Bestseller
A Boston Globe Bestseller
An ABA Indie Bestseller
James "Whitey" Bulger became one of the most ruthless gangsters in US history, and all because of an unholy deal he made with a childhood friend. John Connolly a rising star in the Boston FBI office, offered Bulger protection in return for helping the Feds eliminate Boston's Italian mafia. But no one offered Boston protection from Whitey Bulger, who, in a blizzard of gangland killings, took over the city's drug trade. Whitey's deal with Connolly's FBI spiraled out of control to become the biggest informant scandal in FBI history.
Black Mass is a New York Times and Boston Globe bestseller, written by two former reporters who were on the case from the beginning. It is an epic story of violence, double-cross, and corruption at the center of which are the black hearts of two old friends whose lives unfolded in the darkness of permanent midnight.
"Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read..also highly persuasive." -Time
Now updated with a new afterword
One of the world's leading experts on language and the mind explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.