“A Best Book of 2015”—The New York Times, The Washington Post, People Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, and Kirkus Reviews
In a thrilling dramatic narrative, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.
When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout in 2006.
His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Last Punisher is a “thoughtful, funny, and raw…always compelling” (Bing West, New York Times bestselling author of No True Glory) first-person account of the Iraq War. With wry humor and moving testimony, Kevin Lacz tells the bold story of his tour in Iraq with SEAL Team THREE, the warrior elite of the Navy. This legendary unit, known as “The Punishers,” included Chris Kyle (American Sniper), Mike Monsoor, Ryan Job, and Marc Lee. These brave men were instrumental in securing the key locations in the pivotal 2006 Battle of Ramadi.
Minute by minute, Lacz relays the edge-of-your-seat details of his team’s missions in Ramadi, offering a firsthand glimpse into the heated combat, extreme conditions, and harrowing experiences they faced every day. Through it all, Lacz and his teammates formed unbreakable bonds and never lost sight of the cause: protecting America with their fight.
“A rare glimpse into the mind of a Navy SEAL,” (Clint Emerson, New York Times bestselling author of 100 Deadly Skills) Kevin Lacz brings you onto the battlefield and relays the tough realities of war. At the same time, Lacz shares how these experiences made him a better man and how proud he is of his contributions to one of this country’s most difficult military campaigns.
The Last Punisher is the story of a SEAL and an “honest-to-God American hero” (Mike Huckabee, #1 bestselling author) who was never afraid to answer the call.
The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. America has pursued its enemies with killer drones and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, untrustworthy foreign intelligence services, and proxy armies.
This new approach to war has been embraced by Washington as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to the messy wars of occupation and has been championed as a clean and surgical way of conflict. But the knife has created enemies just as it has killed them. It has fomented resentments among allies, fueled instability, and created new weapons unbound by the normal rules of accountability during wartime.
Mark Mazzetti tracks an astonishing cast of characters on the ground in the shadow war, from a CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played to the chain-smoking Pentagon official running an off-the-books spy operation, from a Virginia socialite whom the Pentagon hired to gather intelligence about militants in Somalia to a CIA contractor imprisoned in Lahore after going off the leash.
At the heart of the book is the story of two proud and rival entities, the CIA and the American military, elbowing each other for supremacy. Sometimes, as with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, their efforts have been perfectly coordinated. Other times, including the failed operations disclosed here for the first time, they have not. For better or worse, their struggles will define American national security in the years to come.
On September 12th, 2012, Brandon Webb learned Glen Doherty, one of his closest friends and his former Navy SEAL teammate, was killed alongside Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and two other Americans when the U.S. State Department and CIA headquarters in Benghazi, Libya, were sieged in a shocking terrorist attack. For the next four months, Webb and his team at SOFREP.com, the world’s premier Special Ops website, embarked on a relentless investigation to understand exactly what happened to their countrymen, as well as the roles played by the Obama administration, State Department, and CIA. Drawing on unmatched sources, they spoke to individuals who would talk to no one else, including fellow Special Operations team members familiar with the African theatre, and to well-placed contacts in the Washington intelligence community. This is their report—an unforgettably gripping minute-by-minute narrative of the events and their aftermath as they really unfolded on that terrible day in Libya.
Former ABC journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the riveting true story of Kamila Sidiqi and other women of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s fearful rise to power. In what Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, calls “one of the most inspiring books I have ever read,” Lemmon recounts with novelistic vividness the true story of a fearless young woman who not only reinvented herself as an entrepreneur to save her family but, in the face of ferocious opposition, brought hope to the lives of dozens of women in war-torn Kabul.
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.
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.
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.
From the barbarians of ISIS to the terror tactics of Al-Qaeda and its offshoots, to the impending threat of a nuclear Iran, those motivated by extreme fundamentalist Islamic faith have the power to endanger and kill millions. The conflict with them will not end until we face the truth about those who find their inspiration and justification in the religion itself.
Drawing on quotes from the Koran and the hadith, as well as from leaders of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Glenn Beck seeks to expose the true origins of Islamic extremism as well as the deadly theological motivations behind these agencies of destruction.
Using the same unique no-holds-barred style from his bestselling books Control and Conform, Glenn Beck offers straight facts and history about the fundamental beliefs that inspire so many to kill.
From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere else. What caused this shift? Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the country’s most respected voices on foreign affairs, offers an incisive critical history of this ongoing military enterprise—now more than thirty years old and with no end in sight.
During the 1980s, Bacevich argues, a great transition occurred. As the Cold War wound down, the United States initiated a new conflict—a War for the Greater Middle East—that continues to the present day. The long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union had involved only occasional and sporadic fighting. But as this new war unfolded, hostilities became persistent. From the Balkans and East Africa to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, U.S. forces embarked upon a seemingly endless series of campaigns across the Islamic world. Few achieved anything remotely like conclusive success. Instead, actions undertaken with expectations of promoting peace and stability produced just the opposite. As a consequence, phrases like “permanent war” and “open-ended war” have become part of everyday discourse.
Connecting the dots in a way no other historian has done before, Bacevich weaves a compelling narrative out of episodes as varied as the Beirut bombing of 1983, the Mogadishu firefight of 1993, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the rise of ISIS in the present decade. Understanding what America’s costly military exertions have wrought requires seeing these seemingly discrete events as parts of a single war. It also requires identifying the errors of judgment made by political leaders in both parties and by senior military officers who share responsibility for what has become a monumental march to folly. This Bacevich unflinchingly does.
A twenty-year army veteran who served in Vietnam, Andrew J. Bacevich brings the full weight of his expertise to this vitally important subject. America’s War for the Greater Middle East is a bracing after-action report from the front lines of history. It will fundamentally change the way we view America’s engagement in the world’s most volatile region.
Praise for America’s War for the Greater Middle East
“Bacevich is thought-provoking, profane and fearless. . . . [His] call for Americans to rethink their nation’s militarized approach to the Middle East is incisive, urgent and essential.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Bacevich’s magnum opus . . . a deft and rhythmic polemic aimed at America’s failures in the Middle East from the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency to the present.”—Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal
“A critical review of American policy and military involvement . . . Those familiar with Bacevich’s work will recognize the clarity of expression, the devastating directness and the coruscating wit that characterize the writing of one of the most articulate and incisive living critics of American foreign policy.”—The Washington Post
“[A] monumental new work.”—The Huffington Post
“An unparalleled historical tour de force certain to affect the formation of future U.S. foreign policy.”—Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
From the Hardcover edition.
Michael B. Oren’s memoir of his time as Israel’s ambassador to the United States—a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East—provides a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region.
Michael Oren served as the Israeli ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. An American by birth and a historian by training, Oren arrived at his diplomatic post just as Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton assumed office. During Oren’s tenure in office, Israel and America grappled with the Palestinian peace process, the Arab Spring, and existential threats to Israel posed by international terrorism and the Iranian nuclear program. Forged in the Truman administration, America’s alliance with Israel was subjected to enormous strains, and its future was questioned by commentators in both countries. On more than one occasion, the friendship’s very fabric seemed close to unraveling.
Ally is the story of that enduring alliance—and of its divides—written from the perspective of a man who treasures his American identity while proudly serving the Jewish State he has come to call home. No one could have been better suited to strengthen bridges between the United States and Israel than Michael Oren—a man equally at home jumping out of a plane as an Israeli paratrooper and discussing Middle East history on TV’s Sunday morning political shows. In the pages of this fast-paced book, Oren interweaves the story of his personal journey with behind-the-scenes accounts of fateful meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, high-stakes summits with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and diplomatic crises that intensified the controversy surrounding the world’s most contested strip of land.
A quintessentially American story of a young man who refused to relinquish a dream—irrespective of the obstacles—and an inherently Israeli story about assuming onerous responsibilities, Ally is at once a record, a chronicle, and a confession. And it is a story about love—about someone fortunate enough to love two countries and to represent one to the other. But, above all, this memoir is a testament to an alliance that was and will remain vital for Americans, Israelis, and the world.
In 2011, a wave of revolution spread through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption, and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new ethos of common citizenship. Five years later, their utopian aspirations have taken on a darker cast as old divides reemerge and deepen. In one country after another, brutal terrorists and dictators have risen to the top.
A Rage for Order is the first work of literary journalism to track the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. In the style of V. S. Naipaul and Lawrence Wright, the distinguished New York Times correspondent Robert F. Worth brings the history of the present to life through vivid stories and portraits. We meet a Libyan rebel who must decide whether to kill the Qaddafi-regime torturer who murdered his brother; a Yemeni farmer who lives in servitude to a poetry-writing, dungeon-operating chieftain; and an Egyptian doctor who is caught between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his hopes for a new, tolerant democracy.
Combining dramatic storytelling with an original analysis of the Arab world today, A Rage for Order captures the psychic and actual civil wars raging throughout the Middle East, and explains how the dream of an Arab renaissance gave way to a new age of discord.
In this remarkably human portrait of one of the twentieth century's most complicated personalities, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Andrew Scott Cooper traces the Shah's life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He draws the turbulence of the post-war era during which the Shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world's top five powers. Readers get the story of the Shah's political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right, the beloved family they created, and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution. Cooper's investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family. Intimate and sweeping at once, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world's most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
"Historically incisive, geographically broad-reaching, and brimming with illuminating anecdotes."—Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of Books Iranian-born scholar Vali Nasr has become one of America's leading commentators on current events in the Middle East, admired and welcomed by both media and government for his "concise and coherent" analysis (Wall Street Journal, front-page profile). In this "remarkable work" (Anderson Cooper), Nasr brilliantly dissects the political and theological antagonisms within Islam, providing a unique and objective understanding of the 1,400-year bitter struggle between Shias and Sunnis and shedding crucial light on its modern-day consequences.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Guardian • Financial Times
When Hisham Matar was a nineteen-year-old university student in England, his father went missing under mysterious circumstances. Hisham would never see him again, but he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. Twenty-two years later, he returned to his native Libya in search of the truth behind his father’s disappearance. The Return is the story of what he found there.
The Pulitzer Prize citation hailed The Return as “a first-person elegy for home and father.” Transforming his personal quest for answers into a brilliantly told universal tale of hope and resilience, Matar has given us an unforgettable work with a powerful human question at its core: How does one go on living in the face of unthinkable loss?
Praise for The Return
“A tale of mighty love, loyalty and courage. It simply must be read.”—The Spectator (U.K.)
“Wise and agonizing and thrilling to read.”—Zadie Smith
“[An] eloquent memoir . . . at once a suspenseful detective story about a writer investigating his father’s fate . . . and a son’s efforts to come to terms with his father’s ghost, who has haunted more than half his life by his absence.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“This outstanding book . . . roves back and forth in time with a freedom that conceals the intricate precision of its art.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Truly remarkable . . . a book with a profound faith in the consolations of storytelling . . . a testament to [Matar’s] father, his family and his country.”—The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
“The Return is a riveting book about love and hope, but it is also a moving meditation on grief and loss. . . . Likely to become a classic.”—Colm Tóibín
“Matar’s evocative writing and his early traumas call to mind Vladimir Nabokov.”—The Washington Post
“Utterly riveting.”—The Boston Globe
“A moving, unflinching memoir of a family torn apart.”—Kazuo Ishiguro, The Guardian
“Beautiful . . . The Return, for all the questions it cannot answer, leaves a deep emotional imprint.”—Newsday
“A masterful memoir, a searing meditation on loss, exile, grief, guilt, belonging, and above all, family. It is, as well, a study of the shaping—and breaking—of the bonds between fathers and sons. . . . This is writing of the highest quality.”—The Sunday Times (U.K.)
"The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World"—the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt’s history—chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East, all of which inspired the documentary about his life, Tickling Giants.
Bassem Youssef’s incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation’s dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.
So potent were Youssef’s skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.
In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef recounts his life and offers hysterical riffs on the hypocrisy, instability, and corruption that has long animated Egyptian politics. From the attempted cover-up of the violent clashes in Tahrir Square to the government’s announcement that it had created the world’s first "AIDS cure" machine, to the conviction of officials that Youssef was a CIA operative—recruited by Jon Stewart—to bring down the country through sarcasm. There’s much more—and it’s all insanely true.
Interweaving the dramatic and inspiring stories of the development of his popular television show and his rise as the most contentious funny-man in Egypt, Youssef’s humorous, fast-paced takes on dictatorship, revolution, and the unforeseeable destiny of democracy in the Modern Middle East offers much needed hope and more than a few healing laughs. A documentary about his life, Tickling Giants, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and is now scheduled for major release.
For more than a quarter of a century, few countries have been as resistant to American influence or understanding as Iran. The United States and Iran have long eyed each other with suspicion, all too eager to jump to conclusions and slam the door. What gets lost along the way is a sense of what is actually happening inside Iran and why it matters. With a new hard-line Iranian president making incendiary pronouncements and pressing for nuclear developments, the consequences of not understanding Iran have never been higher.
Ray Takeyh, a leading expert on Iran's politics and history, has written a groundbreaking book that demystifies the Iranian regime and shows how the fault lines of Iran's domestic politics serve to explain its behavior. In Hidden Iran, he explains why this country has so often confounded American expectations and why its outward hostility does not necessarily preclude the normalization of relations. Through a clearer understanding of the competing claims of Muslim theology, republican pragmatism, and factional competition, he offers a new paradigm for managing our relations with this rising power.
With his unique mix of clandestine knowledge and paramilitary training, Berntsen represents the new face of counterterrorism. Recognized within the agency for his aggressiveness, Berntsen, when dispatched to Afghanistan, made annihilating the enemy his job description.
As the CIA’s key commander coordinating the fight against the Taliban forces around Kabul, and the drive toward Tora Bora, Berntsen not only led dozens of CIA and Special Operations Forces, he also raised 2,000 Afghan fighters to aid in the hunt for bin Laden.
In this first-person account of that incredible pursuit, which actually began years earlier in an East Africa bombing investigation, Berntsen describes being ferried by rickety helicopter over the towering peaks of Afghanistan, sitting by General Tommy Franks’s side as heated negotiations were conducted with Northern Alliance generals, bargaining relentlessly with treacherous Afghan warlords and Taliban traitors, plotting to save hostages about to be used as pawns, calling in B-52 strikes on dug-in enemy units, and deploying a dizzying array of Special Forces teams in the pursuit of the world’s most wanted terrorist. Most crucially, Berntsen tells of cornering bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains—and what happened when Berntsen begged Washington to block the al-Qaeda leader’s last avenue of escape.
As disturbingly eye-opening as it is adrenaline-charged, Jawbreaker races from CIA war rooms to diplomatic offices to mountaintop redoubts to paint a vivid portrait of a new kind of warfare, showing what can and should be done to deal a death blow to freedom’s enemies.
CIA Commander Gary Berntsen on…
His eyebrow-raising style:
“Most CIA Case Officers advanced their careers by recruiting sources and producing intelligence, I took a more grab-them-by-the-neck approach…I operated on the principle that it was easier to seek forgiveness than ask for approval. Take risks, but make sure you’re successful. Success, not good intentions, would determine my fate.”
Doing whatever it took:
“I didn’t just want to survive: I wanted to annihilate the enemy. And I didn’t want to end up like one of my favorite historical characters—Alexander Burns…He was one of the first of more than 14,000 British soldiers to be wiped out by the Afghans in the First Afghan War. Like Burns before me, I was also an intelligence officer and spoke Persian. This was my second trip into Afghanistan, too. The difference, I told myself, was that Burns had been a gentleman and I would do whatever it took to win.”
Dealing with a Taliban official who controlled American hostages:
“Tell him that if he betrays me or loses the hostages I’ll spend every waking moment of my life hunting him down to kill him. Tell him I’m not like any American he has ever met.”
The capabilities of his Tora Bora spotter team:
“Working nonstop, the four men directed strike after strike by B-1s, B-2s, and F-14s onto the al-Qaeda encampment with incredible precision. Somehow through the massive bureaucracy, thousands of miles of distance [and] reams of red tape…the U.S. had managed to place four of the most skilled men in the world above the motherlode of al-Qaeda, with a laser designator and communications system linked to the most potent air power in history…As I listened over our encrypted radio network, one word kept pounding in my head: revenge.”
Also available as a Random House AudioBook
From the Hardcover edition.
A few weeks after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, journalist Megan K. Stack was thrust into Afghanistan and Pakistan, dodging gunmen, prodding warlords for information, and witnessing the changes sweeping the Muslim world. Every Man in This Village Is a Liar is her riveting story of what she saw in the combat zones and beyond. She relates her initial wild excitement and slow disillusionment as the cost of violence outweighs the promise of democracy; she records the raw pain of suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq; and, one by one, she marks the deaths and disappearances of those she interviews.
Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service brought to life the gripping, legendary missions of Israeli's national intelligence force like never before, capturing the danger of the operations and the bravery of the operatives who risked everything to complete their assignments.
Now, in No Mission Is Impossible, Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal return with the intensely absorbing, fast-paced story of thirty of the boldest missions of the Israeli Special Forces. Bar-Zohar and Mishal depict in electrifying detail major battles, raids in enemy territory, and death-defying commando missions while also sharing the personal stories of both soldiers and top commanders, revealing their hopes and fears. The stories are often of victories, but sometimes also of immense failures, and run side-by-side with the accounts of the lives and accomplishments of some of Israel's most prominent figures, including Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, the brothers Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Avigdor Kahalani. We follow Sharon, from his near death at the battle of Latrun in 1948, to his crossing Suez in 1973; we are with Ehud Barak, dressed in women's clothes, when he commands a daring raid in Beirut in 1973, and then when he is elected Prime Minister in 1999. Besides recounting the mesmerizing, high-stakes missions, No Mission Is Impossible includes an interview in each chapter with a major figure who took part in the mission discussed, including some of the most prominent players in Israeli politics, and stunning photographs, many published for the first time.
Captivating and eye-opening, No Mission Is Impossible is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how these crucial missions shaped Israel, and the world at large.
In these twenty-eight interviews, Said addresses everything from Palestine to Pavarotti, from his nomadic upbringing under colonial rule to his politically active and often controversial adulthood, and reflects on Austen, Beckett, Conrad, Naipaul, Mahfouz, and Rushdie, as well as on fellow critics Bloom, Derrida, and Foucault. The passion Said feels for literature, music, history, and politics is powerfully conveyed in this indispensable complement to his prolific life's work.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century is the groundbreaking history of a family and its fortune. It chronicles a young illiterate Yemeni bricklayer, Mohamed Bin Laden, who went to the new, oil-rich country of Saudi Arabia and quickly became a vital figure in its development, building great mosques and highways and making himself and many of his children millionaires. It is also a story of the Saudi royal family, whom the Bin Ladens served loyally and without whose capricious favor they would have been nothing. And it is a story of tensions and contradictions in a country founded on extreme religious purity, which then became awash in oil money and dazzled by the temptations of the West. In only two generations the Bin Ladens moved from a famine-stricken desert canyon to luxury jets, yachts, and private compounds around the world, even going into business with Hollywood celebrities. These religious and cultural gyrations resulted in everything from enthusiasm for America—exemplified by Osama’s free-living pilot brother Salem—to an overwhelming determination to destroy it.
The Bin Ladens is a meticulously researched, colorful, shocking, entertaining, and disturbing narrative of global integration and its limitations. It encapsulates the unsettling contradictions of globalization in the story of a single family who has used money, mobility, and technology to dramatically varied ends.
Though Saudi Arabia sits on one of the richest oil deposits in the world, it also produced fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. In this immensely important book, journalist Robert Lacey draws on years of access to every circle of Saudi society giving readers the fullest portrait yet of a land straddling the worlds of medievalism and modernity. Moving from the bloody seizure of Mecca's Grand Mosque in 1979, through the Persian Gulf War, to the delicate U.S.-Saudi relations in a post 9/11 world, Inside the Kingdom brings recent history to vivid life and offers a powerful story of a country learning how not to be at war with itself.
Who is ISIS? Where did it come from, and what is driving its successful campaign of murder and conquest? Our government and our media alike seemed to be blindsided by the Islamic State’s blitzkrieg-like advance, which forced American troops back into Iraq. ISIS has conquered a territory roughly the size of the state of Indiana, rules over eight million terrorized souls, and has even revived the practice of legal slavery. And yet the true motivations, inner workings, and future plans of this terror state and its mysterious caliph seem almost as obscure as when ISIS first burst onto the world scene. In ISIS Exposed, veteran investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck gets inside the story of the new caliphate and reveals just how clear and present a threat it is.
"The best overall survey of the politics, regional rivalries and economics of the contemporary Arab World." -The Washington Post
One of the most crucial, volatile, and complex regions of the modern world, the Middle East has long confounded the dreams of conquerors and peacemakers alike. This now-classic book, fully updated to 2012 and still the essential work on the subject, follows the historic struggles of the Middle East from Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria, through the slow decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of Islam and its recent resurgence.
For this fourth edition, Economist correspondent Nicolas Pelham contributes an extensive new section examining recent developments throughout the Middle East, including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the situation in Iran, the region’s relations with the United States under President Obama, the Arab Spring, and more.
On Facebook, “Melodie”—a twenty-year-old-convert to Islam living with her mother and sister in Toulouse—meets Bilel, a French-born, high-ranking militant for the Islamic State in Syria. Within days, Bilel falls in love with Melodie, Skypes her repeatedly, and adamantly urges her to come to Syria, marry him, and do jihad. The honey-tongued suitor promises the innocent, fatherless young girl a life of material comfort and spiritual purpose.
But “Melodie” is actually Anna Erelle, a Parisian based journalist investigating the recruitment channels of the Islamic state, whose digital propaganda—Jihad 2.0—constitutes one of its most formidable and frightening weapons, successfully mobilizing increasing numbers of young Europeans.
In this taut and riveting true story, Erelle chronicles her intense, month-long relationship with Bilel—who turns out to be none other than the right hand man of Abou Bakr al-Baghadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS. Impatient for Melodie to join him, Bilel tells her that, according to an imam, they are already all but married, and will be officially when she arrives in Syria. As she embarks on the final, most dangerous stage of her investigation, Melodie leaves for Amsterdam to begin her journey to the Middle East. But things go terribly wrong.
A gripping and often harrowing inquiry into the factors that motivate young people to join extremist causes, and a shocking exploration of how technology and social media are spreading radicalism, The Mind of a Jihadist is a riveting page-turner that helps us better understand the appeal of extremism—and how an Islamic militant attempts to brainwash, seduce, and manipulate a vulnerable young woman.
Rather than focusing on one state or angle, this anthology fills a gap in the literature on the Kurds by providing a panoramic view of the Kurdish homeland's various parts. The volume focuses on aspects of Kurdish nationalism and identity formation not addressed elsewhere, including perspectives on literature, gender, and constitution making. Further, broad thematic essays include a discussion of the historical experiences of the Kurds from the time of their Islamization more than a millennium ago up until the modern era, a comparison of the Kurdish experience with other ethno-national movements, and a treatment of the role of tribalism in modern nation building. This collection is unique in its use of original sources in various languages. The result is an analytically rich portrayal that sheds light on the Kurds' prospects and the challenges they confront in a region undergoing sweeping upheavals.
In 1979, seemingly overnight—moving at a clip some thirty years faster than the rest of the world—Iran became the first revolutionary theocracy in modern times. Since then, the country has been largely a black box to the West, a sinister presence looming over the horizon. But inside Iran, a breathtaking drama has unfolded since then, as religious thinkers, political operatives, poets, journalists, and activists have imagined and reimagined what Iran should be. They have drawn as deeply on the traditions of the West as of the East and have acted upon their beliefs with urgency and passion, frequently staking their lives for them.
With more than a decade of experience reporting on, researching, and writing about Iran, Laura Secor narrates this unprecedented history as a story of individuals caught up in the slipstream of their time, seizing and wielding ideas powerful enough to shift its course as they wrestle with their country’s apparatus of violent repression as well as its rich and often tragic history. Essential reading at this moment when the fates of our countries have never been more entwined, Children of Paradise will stand as a classic of political reporting; an indelible portrait of a nation and its people striving for change.
From the Hardcover edition.
ISIS, IS, the Islamic State. The name is chilling. The images are horrific. This is a group that beheads journalists—and yet one, the German Jürgen Todenhöfer, went out of his way to get an invitation to visit ISIS fighters in Mosul in 2014 to ask them to explain their beliefs. This book is the result of his conversation. My Journey into the Heart of Terror: Ten Days in the Islamic State shows how the organization grew from its al-Qaeda roots and takes a harsh look at the West’s role in its past and today. Along the way, Todenhöfer offers startling insights into what ISIS thinks, what it wants—and what must change if it is to be defeated. Only by understanding, Todenhöfer believes, can we move forward and combat ISIS’s radical, violent interpretation of Islam and the terror and destruction it brings.
In the spring of 1946, American journalist I. F. Stone embarked on an incredible adventure, accompanying Holocaust survivors as they made their historic voyage from Eastern Europe to the biblical Promised Land. Undertaken in secrecy against the strict orders of Palestine’s British colonial governors, this harrowing escape began in the displaced persons camps of Germany and Poland. An illegal convoy of the homeless, proud, and determined, these refugees traveled by train and by foot across the European continent before boarding the ship that would carry them past the British blockade to their ancient, ancestral home.
No account of the historic twentieth-century exodus is as poignant, powerful, exhilarating, and dramatic as this acclaimed first-person narrative. Through the words of author I. F. Stone, one of America’s most provocative and revered investigative reporters, these courageous men, women, and children live again. Largely implicit but nevertheless unyielding is Stone’s belief in a binational Arab-Jewish state, a creed unacceptable to the Zionist movement of the time.
Included are essays written in the years following Israel’s establishment, reflecting on the state of the newly reborn nation and the volatile situation in the Middle East thirty years beyond the establishment of Mandatory Palestine. Caught between the immediate, innate sense of belonging he felt in Palestine and his own developing critique of Zionism, Stone wrote into each of these works a personal struggle, a question of justice unsolved today.
With a new introduction by D. D. Guttenplan, this edition reveals a perspective indispensable to understanding past and present tensions in the Middle East.
One of Financial Times' Books of the Year, 2015
A New York Times Editors' Choice
A New Statesman [UK] Essential Book of the Year 2015
A Times [UK] Book of the Year 2015
Shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction
Shortlisted for the 2016 Orwell Prize
When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict.
As the representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Kirkuk in 2003 and then the political advisor to US General Odierno from 2007-2010, Sky was valued for her knowledge of the region and her outspoken voice. She became a tireless witness to American efforts to transform a country traumatized by decades of war, sanctions, and brutal dictatorship; to insurgencies and civil war; to the planning and implementation of the surge and the subsequent drawdown of US troops; to the corrupt political elites who used sectarianism to mobilize support; and to the takeover of a third of the country by the Islamic State.
With sharp detail and tremendous empathy, Sky provides unique insights into the US military as well as the complexities, diversity, and evolution of Iraqi society. The Unraveling is an intimate insider's portrait of how and why the Iraq adventure failed and contains a unique analysis of the course of the war. Highlighting how nothing that happened in Iraq after 2003 was inevitable, Sky exposes the failures of the policies of both Republicans and Democrats, and the lessons that must be learned about the limitations of power.
Sciutto profiles a cross-section of people in the Arab world, including a former Al-Qaeda jihadi turned electrician in Saudi Arabia, a Jordanian college student willing to risk his life by killing Americans in Baghdad, a Christian woman who supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, bitter pro-democracy advocates in Egypt who feel betrayed by the United States, and British-born Muslim terrorists living in London. The result is an alarming portrait of the depth and scope of anti-American sentiment.
Opposing America has become the unifying rallying cry for a rapidly growing pan-Arab nationalist movement. Conspiracy theories abound as Muslims begin to feel they are targeted by America, their political autonomy sabotaged. The Iraq war has become one of the most powerful recruiting tools for enemies of the United States.
Yet there is hope for America to turn the tide of hate. Sciutto talks with a young female student in Afghanistan who is cautiously optimistic that the United States will not fail her country in the rebuilding effort—and with a reformed jihadi in London who is finding ways to counsel young British Muslims away from their hatred of America. Democratic ideals are still held in high esteem, even as America’s perceived actions against Muslims are not.
Against Us is an urgent wake-up call for all Americans—and in particular those charged with formulating U.S. foreign policy—to rebuild relations with the Arab world and restore confidence in American values.
From the Hardcover edition.
The greatest danger to America’s peace and prosperity, notes leading Middle East policy analyst Kenneth M. Pollack, lies in the political repression, economic stagnation, and cultural conflict running rampant in Arab and Muslim nations. By inflaming political unrest and empowering terrorists, these forces pose a direct threat to America’s economy and national security. The impulse for America might be to turn its back on the Middle East in frustration over the George W. Bush administration’s mishandling of the Iraq War and other engagements with Arab and Muslim countries. But such a move, Pollack asserts, will only exacerbate problems. He counters with the idea that we must continue to make the Middle East a priority in our policy, but in a humbler, more humane, more realistic, and more cohesive way.
Pollack argues that Washington’s greatest sin in its relations with the Middle East has been its persistent unwillingness to make the sustained and patient effort needed to help the people of the Middle East overcome the crippling societal problems facing their governments and societies. As a result, the United States has never had a workable comprehensive policy in the region, just a skein of half-measures intended either to avoid entanglement or to contain the influence of the Soviet Union.
Beyond identifying the stagnation of civic life in Arab and Muslim states and the cumulative effect of our misguided policies, Pollack offers a long-term strategy to ameliorate the political, economic, and social problems that underlie the region’s many crises. Through his suggested policies, America can engage directly with the governments of the Middle East and indirectly with its people by means of cultural exchange, commerce, and other “soft” approaches. He carefully examines each of the region’s most contested areas, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and explains how the United States can address each through mutually reinforcing policies.
At a time when the nation will be facing critical decisions about our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, A Path Out of the Desert is guaranteed to stimulate debate about America’s humanitarian, diplomatic, and military involvement in the Middle East.
From the Hardcover edition.
With the rise of ISIS, a new style of terrorism that publicly gloats over acts of extreme cruelty has reawakened the fears of the global audience. But in Don't Panic, Gwynne Dyer argues that the advent of "Islamic State" and its clones does not substantially raise the risk of major terrorist attacks in Western countries. It does, however, pose a grave threat to the Arab countries of the Middle East.
In Don't Panic, Dyer first explains why the Middle East has become the global capital of terrorism. He then examines how terrorist organisations in the Arab world have evolved over time, with particular emphasis on the events of the past fifteen years and the current situation in Syria and Iraq. And in the end Dyer departs from his long-standing position that foreign interventions always make matters worse to argue that a little military intervention of the right kind may avert a genocide in Syria.
"When my information changes, I alter my conclusions," said John Maynard Keynes. "What do you do, sir?"
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Despite numerous warnings from intelligence services, ISIS's rise to power has left countries around the world floundering for solutions. Today, we face a threat that is more violent, powerful and financially stronger than ever before. In this book, Journalist Benjamin Hall will provide insights by answering the basic questions we still don't have the answers to; Who are they? Where did they come from? How are they so successful, so quickly? How can they be stopped?
By embedding himself behind enemy lines, Hall provides a riveting narrative based on firsthand experience and personal interviews. He goes beyond the vicious jihadis, to reveal a generation of chaos, and uncover a volatile region engulfed in turmoil. Hall reveals why ISIS is a problem that will define the Middle East - and the West - for decades to come.
The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin remains the single most consequential event in Israel’s recent history, and one that fundamentally altered the trajectory for both Israel and the Palestinians. In Killing a King, Dan Ephron relates the parallel stories of Rabin and his stalker, Yigal Amir, over the two years leading up to the assassination, as one of them planned political deals he hoped would lead to peace, and the other plotted murder. "Carefully reported, clearly presented, concise and gripping," It stands as "a reminder that what happened on a Tel Aviv sidewalk 20 years ago is as important to understanding Israel as any of its wars" (Matti Friedman, The Washington Post).
In this monumental work, extensively researched and more relevant than ever, David Shipler delves into the origins of the prejudices that exist between Jews and Arabs that have been intensified by war, terrorism, and nationalism.
Focusing on the diverse cultures that exist side by side in Israel and Israeli-controlled territories, Shipler examines the process of indoctrination that begins in schools; he discusses the far-ranging effects of socioeconomic differences, historical conflicts between Islam and Judaism, attitudes about the Holocaust, and much more. And he writes of the people: the Arab woman in love with a Jew, the retired Israeli military officer, the Palestinian guerrilla, the handsome actor whose father is Arab and whose mother is Jewish.
For Shipler, and for all who read this book, their stories and hundreds of others reflect not only the reality of "wounded spirits" but also a glimmer of hope for eventual coexistence in the Promised Land.
The book describes how ISIS emerged in the chaos of Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion, how the group was strengthened by the suppression of the Arab Spring and by the war in Syria, and how ISIS seized leadership of the jihadist movement from Al Qaeda. Part of a militant Sunni revival, ISIS claims its goals are to resurrect a caliphate and rid "Islamic lands" of all Shia and other minorities. In contrast to Al Qaeda, ISIS initially focused on the "near enemy"—Shia, the Iraqi and Syrian regimes, and secular, pro-Western states in the Middle East. But in a tactical shift ISIS has now taken responsibility for spectacular attacks in Europe and other places beyond the Middle East, making it clear that the group is increasingly interested in targeting the "far enemy" as well. Ultimately, the book shows how decades of dictatorship, poverty, and rising sectarianism in the Middle East, exacerbated by foreign intervention, led to the rise of ISIS—and why addressing those problems is the only way to ensure its end.
An authoritative introduction to arguably the most important conflict in the world today, this is an essential book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the social turmoil and political violence ravaging the Arab-Islamic world.
Written in Arabic by Sheikh Mohammed’s own hand and translated into English, this insightful book includes both personal stories and an international perspective to emphasize the pivotal role that happiness and positivity play in forming leadership strategies and fostering relationships among team members.
Remi Kanazi's poetry presents an unflinching look at the lives of Palestinians under occupation and as refugees scattered across the globe. He captures the Palestinian people's stubborn refusal to be erased, gives voice to the ongoing struggle for liberation, and explores the meaning of international solidarity.
In this latest collection, Kanazi expands his focus outside the sphere of Palestine and presents pieces examining racism in America, police brutality, US militarism at home and wars abroad, conflict voyeurism, Islamophobia, and a range of other issues.
Jerusalem is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, fanaticism, bloodshed, and coexistence, from King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the “center of the world” and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs, and revelations of the men and women who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient world of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Lincoln, Rasputin, Lawrence of Arabia and Moshe Dayan.
In this masterful narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore brings the holy city to life and draws on the latest scholarship, his own family history, and a lifetime of study to show that the story of Jerusalem is truly the story of the world.
A New York Times Notable Book
Jewish Book Council Book of the Year
As a Venezuelan journalist, my limited impression of the Kurds was that they were fierce warriors who lived amongst distant mountains somewhere in the Middle East. Yilmaz Gney taught me about the free-spirited Kurdish people, opening my eyes to the oppression they had endured for centuries. Their situation touched me deeply and I began to write articles on the Kurds for Venezuelan newspapers and magazines.
One year later in Paris, I found myself standing face-to-face with this sophisticated, charming, and charismatic Middle Eastern leader of millions of Kurds in Iran.
from THE PASSION AND DEATH OF RAHMAN THE KURD
Ghassemlous lifelong wish was that of lasting peace for his people. He was the visionary and cultivated leader of the Iranian Kurdish revolutionary movement, brutally assassinated in 1989 while negotiating a peace accord for his people with Irans government emissaries in Vienna. His light still shines upon the volatile politics of this remote Middle East region that continues to play prominently upon the worlds political stage.
Carol Prunhuber, writer and journalist, with links to the Kurdish world since the early 1980s, knew Dr. Ghassemlou and spent time in the Kurdish mountains with his guerrillas. The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd is an impassioned and meticulously documented investigation that vividly evokes the enthralling life and final days of this incomparable Kurdish leader.
Kendal Nezan, president of the Kurdish Institute of Paris
This landmark book offers the first in-depth investigation of how Saddam Hussein used Islam and Arab nationalism to legitimate his invasion of Kuwait in the eyes of fellow Muslims and Arabs, while delegitimating the actions of the U.S.-led coalition and its Arab members. Jerry M. Long addresses three fundamental issues: how extensively and in what specific ways Iraq appealed to Islam during the Kuwait crisis; how elites, Islamists, and the elusive Arab "street," both in and out of the coalition, responded to that appeal and why they responded as they did; and the longer-term effects that resulted from Saddam's strategy.
From the corruption of law enforcement agents and the tribal nature of the local power structure to the economics of the drug trade and the frequent blunders of foreign troops, this is the no-holds-barred story from a leading expert on the insurgency.
In this short book, leading Middle East scholar Mohammed Ayoobargues that the Arab Spring has both changed and charged some ofthe region’s thorniest problems - from the rise of politicalIslam to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Israel-Palestineconflict to rivalries between key regional powers. Exploring thesources of conflict in the Middle East and their various linkages,Ayoob offers a thoughtful and balanced assessment of whether theregion is indeed destined for implosion or whether politicalsagacity and diplomatic creativity can bring it back from thebrink.