From Publishers Weekly
Notable for its scope and comprehensiveness, this collection of 24 newly translated public statements by Osama bin Laden offers a nuanced and revealing view of Public Enemy No. 1. Best suited for those whose knowledge of bin Linden is based upon brief, pixilated clips or quotes gleaned from news accounts, the book will provide those who have studied the man and his rarified interpretation of Islam with little, if anything, that is new. Tracing bin Laden's ascendancy from the disgruntled Saudi exile of 1994 whose letters of complaint had a nearly timid tone (in a December 1994 letter to a Saudi judicial leader, bin Laden addresses the recipient as "Honorable sheikh" and writes, "we pray that you do not take these words out of turn or consider them to overstep the limits of etiquette.") to the bombastic jihadist leader in hiding with a $50-million bounty on his head, his statements depict not only a fiery communicator with a knack for manipulating traditional Islamic beliefs, but a revolutionary figure whose romanticized view of himself and his cause carries echoes of iconic revolutionaries past. Familiarity with the Koran will help readers contextualize and evaluate bin Laden's claims (footnotes citing Koranic passages accompany each invocation), though even the uninitiated will have no trouble in identifying arguably willful misinterpretations. (Bin Laden cites, for instance, a verse that concludes, "God has endless bounty and knowledge," to support cautioning "Muslims to be very wary and careful about befriending Jews and Christians.") Those looking for a comprehensive and unexpurgated explanation of the man behind contemporary radical Islam have a powerful reference here.
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“A magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose ... in devising strategies to fight the terrorists, it would be useful to understand the forces that drive them.”—Bernard Lewis, Foreign Affairs
“Expertly edited.”—Boyd Tonkin, Independent
“Western media have made no consistent effort to publish bin Laden’s statements, thereby failing to give their audience the words that put his thoughts and actions in cultural and historical context ... Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty and democracy, but have everything to do with US policies and actions in the Muslim world.”—Michael Scheuer
“Despite the religious rhetoric and the bloody means, bin Laden is a rational man. There is a simple reason why he attacked the US: American imperialism. As long as America seeks to control the Middle East, he and people like him will be its enemy.”—Michael Mann
“This vital collection of Bin Laden’s statements ... provides an invaluable insight into his thinking by bringing his disparate pronouncements within a single set of covers.”—Malise Ruthven, Sunday Times
“Here, with a shrewd, scholarly introduction from Bruce Lawrence, is the complete bin Laden reader.”—Peter Preston, Observer
“Collectively, these messages are the closest we will ever have to the terrorist leader’s Mein Kampf
.”—Mary Braid, Independent on Sunday
“The first complete collection of the Saudi’s statements published today portrays a world in which Islam’s enemies will take the first steps towards salvation by embracing the ‘religion of all the Prophets.’”—Daily Telegraph