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Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; annotated edition edition (November 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844670457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844670451
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“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

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Customer Reviews

It's necessary reading.
Benjamin Keane
The copious amounts of footnotes and introductory matter are also a great strength of this collection.
3rdeadly3rd
This book was a book of 3 choices in my government class.
Lateisha Thomas-overton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on March 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Bruce Lawrence (the compiler) points out that while occasional fragments of bin Laden's words are cited, official pressures have ensured that, for the most part, his voice has been tacitly censured - as though too dangerous to hear. This collection of 24 items include interviews with Arab and Western journalists, handwritten letters, and video recordings.

Lawrence also helps one to understand why bin Laden is a heroic figure for millions of Muslims, including many with no sympathy for terrorism. This is based not just on his success in eluding Americans and their allies, but because his personal reputation for probity, austerity, dignity, and courage - contrasting starkly with the mismanagement, lavishness, and arrogance of most Arab regimes.

Bin Laden points out that his terrorism acts are only retaliation, and that the West has killed far larger numbers in the region within living memory - poison gas and strafing of Iraqi villages by Britain in the 1920s, crushing the Palestinian uprising of the 1930s, France's colonial war in algeria in the 1950s-60s, and deaths through malnutrition and disease of Iraqi children in the 1990s due to the U.N. sanctions. Bin Laden estimates 1.5 million were killed in the preceding - Lawrence estimates it as 300,000.

Bin Laden began his massive undertaking against the U.S. after seeing the mujahidin victory over the Red Army in Afghanistan, and the withdrawal of American forces from Somalia in '93. Unfortunately, bin Laden greatly underestimated the special circumstances associated with both - the U.S. and Pakistani support in Afghanistan, and the inconsequentialness of the U.S. landings in Somalia.

Bin Laden on 9/11 (10/21 interview): ". . . they have done this . . .
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr. on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
From the very first speech in this collection, I began to realize how little I knew about bin Laden's ideas--and yes, he has ideas--and how most of what I thought I knew was wrong. I had heard, repeatedly, that he was a relative latecomer to the Palestinian cause, that he had essentially declared solidarity with them merely to gain popularity in the larger Islamic world. That is not borne out by this book. In his very first speech, dated to 1994, bin Laden is already sounding the notes that reverberate throughout this collection: the entire Muslim world is under seige, from Afghanistan, to Palestine, to Iraq, to Chechnya and Bosnia; the humiliation (and emasculation) of Islam by the western world is the implicit goal. Now, clearly, one can quarrel with his analysis, but such a message has broad appeal. The editor and translator are to be commended for striking just the right balance here; they provide imformation, really crucial information, without taking immediate sides and without claiming a false neutrality either. As the editor has emphasized in his interviews about this book, to defeat bin Laden's ideas, "one must decode them, first." This book is an essential part of that decoding process. Perhaps the most salient interview is one granted by bin Laden to a Spanish Muslim. That man, who gives what is by far the most confrontational interview, questioning bin Laden's orthodoxy, among other things, was subsequently jailed for his trouble. That is perhaps the most fitting parable for this book: the very attempt to engage in a dialogue with this man and his ideas will be suspect to some. But it is the critical task before us, and the editor and translator are to be commended for enabling this dialogue, and for having done so with the moral seriousness it demands.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Osama Bin Laden's statements have been widely covered in TV and radio in bits and pieces; but they haven't been gathered together under one cover before; so to receive a unified presentation of all his admonitions, turn to Messages To The World: The Statements Of Osama Bin Laden. Statements issued in his name over the last ten years are here newly translated from the Arabic and annotated with a critical introduction by editor Lawrence, an Islamic scholar, which adds historical, political and religious context to the statements. Any who want insights on Bin Laden's thoughts and viewpoint must have Messages To The World.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Keane on November 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Media coverage of the war on terror has shied away from broadcasting Osama Bin Ladin's speeches and statements in complete and unedited form. Messages to the World is a collection of those speeches, selected by a professor from Duke. The themes are mostly global politics and religion, and the tone is simultanously detached and hectoring. If you are an American, it's a bit odd to read, but it never fails to be enlightening. As I was reading Messages, I realized how little I actually know about Bin Ladin's goals, motivation, and political views. Reading this book is a basic, important way to position yourself in the world, to see where you stand in relation to Bin Ladin's ideas. It's necessary reading.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By 3rdeadly3rd on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This collection of translated and annotated statements by Osama bin Laden is the sort of primary source collection I had begun to fear would never be published.

In order to understand the "War on Terror" environment in which we currently live, it is imperative to understand the rhetoric of both sides. Regardless of which viewpoint one supports, it is important to know exactly what the other side is fighting for. This knowledge is abundant on the non-terrorist side, but has so far been available on the terrorist side purely through analyses by expert commentators. Thus, being able to read the actual words of the major ideologue of world terrorism at the moment is a considerable boon.

I say "ideologue" for very good reason. As these statements and their accompanying (and copious) notes and introductions demonstrate, there is a distinct ideology involved in this movement. It may be an ideology directed against everything the West holds dear, but it is an ideology nonetheless. Osama bin Laden has clearly thought about a great many issues prior to initiating the campaigns of violence he has.

As case in point, the significance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often debated by academics and policymakers: Is it central to the globalisation of terrorism, or is it merely a convenient justification to use when asked? As even the earliest statements here demonstrate, this is a key plank in al-Qa'ida's ideology - perhaps even more so than many writers have realised.
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