Book picks similar to
The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda by Ali H. Soufan
See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
Robert B. Baer - 2002
This riveting book is both an indictment of an agency that lost its way and an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism, and includes a new afterword in which Baer speaks out about the American war on terrorism and its profound implications throughout the Middle East.“Robert Baer was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East.”–Seymour M. Hersh, The New YorkerFrom The PrefaceThis book is a memoir of one foot soldier’s career in the other cold war, the one against terrorist networks. It’s a story about places most Americans will never travel to, about people many Americans would prefer to think we don’t need to do business with.This memoir, I hope, will show the reader how spying is supposed to work, where the CIA lost its way, and how we can bring it back again. But I hope this book will accomplish one more purpose as well: I hope it will show why I am angry about what happened to the CIA. And I want to show why every American and everyone who cares about the preservation of this country should be angry and alarmed, too.The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead. Americans were making too much money to bother. Life was good. The White House and the National Security Council became cathedrals of commerce where the interests of big business outweighed the interests of protecting American citizens at home and abroad. Defanged and dispirited, the CIA went along for the ride. And then on September 11, 2001, the reckoning for such vast carelessness was presented for all the world to see.
The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA
Joby Warrick - 2011
In December 2009, a group of the CIA’s top terrorist hunters gathered at a secret base in Khost, Afghanistan, to greet a rising superspy: Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian double-agent who infiltrated the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he had sent shocking revelations from inside the terrorist network and now promised to help the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden’s top deputy. Instead, as he stepped from his car, he detonated a thirty-pound bomb strapped to his chest, instantly killing seven CIA operatives, the agency’s worst loss of life in decades. In The Triple Agent, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Joby Warrick takes us deep inside the CIA’s secret war against al-Qaeda, a war that pits robotic planes and laser-guided missiles against a cunning enemy intent on unleashing carnage in American cities. Flitting precariously between the two sides was Balawi, a young man with extraordinary gifts who managed to win the confidence of hardened terrorists as well as veteran spymasters. With his breathtaking accounts from inside al-Qaeda’s lair, Balawi appeared poised to become America’s greatest double-agent in half a century—but he was not at all what he seemed. Combining the powerful momentum of Black Hawk Down with the institutional insight of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, Warrick takes the readers on a harrowing journey from the slums of Amman to the inner chambers of the White House in an untold true story of miscalculation, deception, and revenge.
500 Days: Decisions and Deceptions in the Shadow of 9/11
Kurt Eichenwald - 2012
He reveals previously undisclosed information from the terror wars, including never-before-reported details about warrantless wiretapping, the anthrax attacks, and investigations and conflicts among Washington, D.C., and London.With his signature fast-paced narrative style, Eichenwald--whose book, "The Informant," ""was called "one of the best nonfiction books of the decade" by "The""New York Times Book Review--"exposes a world of secrets and lies that has remained hidden until now.
The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS
Michael Morell - 2015
Called the "Bob Gates of his generation," Michael Morell is a top CIA officer who saw it all--the only person with President Bush on 9/11/01 and with President Obama on 5/1/11 when Usama Bin Laden was brought to justice. Like Ghost Wars, See No Evil, and At the Center of the Storm, THE GREAT WAR OF OUR TIME will be a vivid, newsmaking account of the CIA, a life of secrets and a war in the shadows.
Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad
Peter L. Bergen - 2012
Other key elements of the book will include:A careful account of Obama’s decision-making process as the raid was plannedThe fascinating story of a group of CIA analysts—largely women—who never gave up assembling the tiniest clues about OBL’s whereaboutsThe untold and action-packed history of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the SEALsAn analysis of what the death of OBL means for al Qaeda, and for Obama’s legacy. Just as Too Big to Fail captured, in riveting detail, the anatomy of this decade’s financial disaster, so too is Manhunt one of the key stories of this decade: the authoritative, immersive account of the operation that killed the man who organized the largest mass murder in American history.
The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan
Michael Hastings - 2011
Now, THE OPERATORS will lead us even deeper into the war, its politics, and its major players at a time when such insight is demanded and desperately needed. Based on exclusive reporting in Afghanistan, Europe, the Middle East, and Washington, DC, this landmark work of journalism will elucidate as never before the United States' involvement in Afghanistan in vivid, unforgettable detail. Part wild travelogue, part expos, and part sobering analysis, THE OPERATORS promises an unprecedented behind-the-scenes account of the war from the only journalist uniquely poised to tell it.
The Forever War
Dexter Filkins - 2008
We go into the homes of suicide bombers and into street-to-street fighting with a battalion of marines. We meet Iraqi insurgents, an American captain who loses a quarter of his men in eight days, and a young soldier from Georgia on a rooftop at midnight reminiscing about his girlfriend back home. A car bomb explodes, bullets fly, and a mother cradles her blinded son.Like no other book, The Forever War allows us a visceral understanding of today’s battlefields and of the experiences of the people on the ground, warriors and innocents alike. It is a brilliant, fearless work, not just about America’s wars after 9/11, but ultimately about the nature of war itself.
Against All Enemies
Richard A. Clarke - 2004
It is in many ways a tougher opponent than the original threat we faced before September 11, and we are not doing what is necessary to make America safe from that threat." No one has more authority to make that claim than Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The one person who knows more about Usama bin Laden and al Qaeda than anyone else in this country, he has devoted two decades of his professional life to combating terrorism. Richard Clarke served seven presidents and worked inside the White House for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush until he resigned in March 2003. He knows, better than anyone, the hidden successes and failures of the Clinton years. He knows, better than anyone, why we failed to prevent 9/11. He knows, better than anyone, how President Bush reacted to the attack and what happened behind the scenes in the days that followed. He knows whether or not Iraq presented a terrorist threat to the United States and whether there were hidden costs to the invasion of that country. Most disturbing of all are Clarke's revelations about the Bush administration's lack of interest in al Qaeda prior to September 11. From the moment the Bush team took office and decided to retain Clarke in his post as the counterterrorism czar, Clarke tried to persuade them to take al Qaeda as seriously as had Bill Clinton. For months, he was denied the opportunity even to make his case to Bush. He encountered key officials who gave the impression that they had never heard of al Qaeda; who focused incessantly on Iraq; who even advocated long-discredited conspiracy theories about Saddam's involvement in previous attacks on the United States. Clarke was the nation's crisis manager on 9/11, running the Situation Room -- a scene described here for the first time -- and then watched in dismay at what followed. After ignoring existing plans to attack al Qaeda when he first took office, George Bush made disastrous decisions when he finally did pay attention. Coming from a man known as one of the hard-liners against terrorists, Against All Enemies is both a powerful history of our two-decades-long confrontation with terrorism and a searing indictment of the current administration.
A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran
Reza Kahlili - 2010
It is a human story, a chronicle of family and friendships torn apart by a terror-mongering regime, and how the adult choices of three childhood mates during the Islamic Republic yielded divisive and tragic fates. And it is the stunningly courageous account of one man’s decades-long commitment to lead a shocking double life informing on the beloved country of his birth, a place that once offered the promise of freedom and enlightenment—but instead ruled by murderous violence and spirit-crushing oppression.Reza Kahlili grew up in Tehran surrounded by his close-knit family and two spirited boyhood friends. The Iran of his youth allowed Reza to think and act freely, and even indulge a penchant for rebellious pranks in the face of the local mullahs. His political and personal freedoms flourished while he studied computer science at the University of Southern California in the 1970s. But his carefree time in America was cut short with the sudden death of his father, and Reza returned home to find a country on the cusp of change. The revolution of 1979 plunged Iran into a dark age of religious fundamentalism under the Ayatollah Khomeini, and Reza, clinging to the hope of a Persian Renaissance, joined the Revolutionary Guards, an elite force at the beck and call of the Ayatollah. But as Khomeini’s tyrannies unfolded, as his fellow countrymen turned on each other, and after the horror he witnessed inside Evin Prison, a shattered and disillusioned Reza returned to America to dangerously become “Wally,” a spy for the CIA.In the wake of an Iranian election that sparked global outrage, at a time when Iran’s nuclear program holds the world’s anxious attention, the revelations inside A Time to Betray could not be more powerful or timely. Now resigned from his secretive life to reclaim precious time with his loved ones, Reza Kahlili documents scenes from history with heart-wrenching clarity, as he supplies vital information from the Iran-Iraq War, the Marine barracks bombings in Beirut, the catastrophes of Pan Am Flight 103, the scandal of the Iran-Contra affair, and more . . . a chain of incredible events that culminates in a nation’s fight for freedom that continues to this very day. A TIME TO BETRAY was the winner of The National Best Books 2010 Awards for Non-Fiction Narrative. It was also honored as the “Finalist” in the “Autobiography/Memoirs” category. It is now part of JCITA’s (Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy of DOD) Iranian Program’s readings.
Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World
Jean Sasson - 2009
In gripping detail, they recount the drama, tensions, and everyday activities of the man they knew as a husband and father. Married at fifteen, Najwa describes the transformation of the quiet, serious young man she fell in love with into an authoritarian husband and stern father, an entrepreneur, and – finally – the leader of a complex international terrorist network. Uprooted from a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege in Saudi Arabia, they suddenly found themselves living life on the run, fleeing from country to country under assumed names and fake passports. Omar describes how he and his siblings were brought up in remote ranches and fortified Afghani mountain camps, handling Kalashnikovs and learning desert survival skills. Their eventual escape from Afghanistan would come just days before the terrible events of 9/11 changed the world forever. With unprecedented access and exclusive family photographs, Jean Sasson, author of the bestselling Princess, presents the story that we were never meant to hear.
Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror
Erik Prince - 2013
Founder and former president of Blackwater, the private contractor that provided security in Iraq and Afghanistan defends himself from the many accusations that his organization was trigger-happy and bilked the American taxpayer.
How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq
Matthew Alexander - 2008
military's top priority -- trumping even the search for Osama bin Laden. No brutality was spared in trying to squeeze intelligence from Zarqawi's suspected associates. But these "force on force" techniques yielded exactly nothing, and, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, the military rushed a new breed of interrogator to Iraq. Matthew Alexander, a former criminal investigator and head of a handpicked interrogation team, gives us the first inside look at the U.S. military's attempt at more civilized interrogation techniques -- and their astounding success. The intelligence coup that enabled the June 7, 2006, air strike onZarqawi's rural safe house was the result of several keenly strategized interrogations, none of which involved torture or even "control" tactics. Matthew and his team decided instead to get to know their opponents. Who were these monsters? Who were they working for? What were they trying to protect? Every day the "'gators" matched wits with a rogues' gallery of suspects brought in by Special Forces ("door kickers"): egomaniacs, bloodthirsty adolescents, opportunistic stereo repairmen, Sunni clerics horrified by the sectarian bloodbath, Al Qaeda fanatics, and good people in the wrong place at the wrong time. With most prisoners, negotiation was possible and psychological manipulation stunningly effective. But Matthew's commitment to cracking the case with these methods sometimes isolated his superiors and put his own career at risk. This account is an unputdownable thriller -- more of a psychological suspense story than a war memoir. And indeed, the story reaches far past the current conflict in Iraq with a reminder that we don't have to become our enemy to defeat him. Matthew Alexander and his ilk, subtle enough and flexible enough to adapt to the challenges of modern, asymmetrical warfare, have proved to be our best weapons against terrorists all over the world.
Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA
Morten Storm - 2014
A six-foot-one red-haired Dane, Storm spent his teens in and out of trouble. A book about the Prophet Mohammed prompted his conversion to Islam, and Storm sought purpose in a community of believers. He attended a militant madrasah in Yemen, named his son Osama, and became close friends with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist cleric. But after a decade of Jihadi life, he not only repudiated extremism but, in a quest for atonement, became a double agent for the CIA and British and Danish intelligence.Agent Storm takes readers inside the jihadist world like never before, showing the daily life of zealous men set on mass murder, from dodging drones with al-Qaeda leaders in the Arabian desert to training in extremist gyms in Britain and performing supply drops in Kenya. The book also provides a tantalizing look at his dangerous life undercover, as Storm traveled the world for missions targeting its most dangerous terrorists , and into the world’s most powerful spy agencies: their tradecraft, rivalries, and late-night carousing, as well as their ruthless use of a beautiful blonde in an ambitious honey trap. Agent Storm is a captivating, utterly unique, real-life espionage tale.
Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander
Gary Berntsen - 2005
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.
Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA
Amaryllis Fox - 2019
Amaryllis Fox's memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world's most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter.