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The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199790654
ISBN-10: 0199790655
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"A masterly and trenchant account of the origins of al Qaeda and its decline after 9/11." --Foreign Affairs


"An equally important, but little-noted, angle to the [September 11 attacks] that Western readers would do well to ponder." - Bookforum


"Worth reading" - The Economist


"A cogent examination of al-Qaeda's historical trajectory that integrates major recent developments into its comprehensive analysis." -Library Journal


"Gerges provides an important alternative to that narrative that should be read by policy makers and the general public alike."--John Voll, Georgetown University


About the Author


Fawaz A. Gerges, the Director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, is Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations. His books include Journey of the Jihadist and The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199790655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199790654
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.9 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pigstick on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading this and enjoyed every page. Refreshing and a challenge to so much that is produced by both politicians and the media about the "War on Terror" it provides a fascinating account of Al-qaeda from its start to where it is now - if anywhere. No book on counter terrorism should be read in isolation, and this is no exception, but it certainly is one of the ones that anyone interested in the subject should be familiar with. Great stuff, well written and at a minimum thought provoking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in this topic, definitively get this book. It gives a different perspective on Al-Qaeda. Most books speak of this organization in an attitude that desires to illicit fear. This book does the complete opposite. It is a must read. The reason I gave it 4 stars was because sometimes his ideas get a little repetitive. Other then that, it should definitely be bought.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fawaz Gerges has written a compelling and detailed analysis of Al-Qaeda, the broader Middle East, and American foreign and security policy related to both. At its core this most well written and read-able book (it is absorbing enough to be finished in an evening) is an up-to-date study of key personalities and events of bin Laden's organization and its development and decline. Based on numerous interviews and an awareness of the broader literature on the topic, this study measures the strengths and weaknesses of Al-Qaeda against a well-painted portrait of today's events and motive forces in the Middle East. It is full of recent history as well as contemporary references to the Arab Spring, drone attacks, bin Laden's killing, and their influence from the Pakistani rimlands to Libya. As important is the book's very insightful analysis of the evolution of America's security and foreign policy toward the region, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, that followed the original 9/11 events.
Gerges' book, full of accessible critcal analysis and opinion, would be an excellent addition to any university seminar on the topic. It would also serve as a solid introduction to a casual reader wanting to enrich their own understanding of today's world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a well-rearched, even-handled examination of Al-Qeda, and shatters the misconceptions citizens and politicians have had on the "Islamic threat." As Gerges documents, the threat is there, there will likely be future events of terrorism, but there is no monolithic world-wide organization behind these acts. Instead, the groups are fragmentary. The actors are not sophisticated wide-eyed terrorists. The members of these ad-hoc organizations in fact are largely uneducated and frankly incompetant. What they have been very good at doing is scaring the begeezers out of the Western world, such that we are all afraid of our own shadows and are happy to destroy our own constitutional principles for the sake of feeling safe. In this respect Al Qeda has been very successful. The author details how since 9 11 the defense and counter-terrorism industry has mushroomed. Much like Dorothy ultimately finding out that the Wizard of Oz is actually a small, insignificant person, this book reveals Al-Qeda for what it is, a bunch of thugs increasingly excluded by their own peoples and lacking any legitmate purpose.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gerges completely turns what he calls the "terrorist narrative" on its head. He exposes al-Qaeda to be a numerically and structurally weak organization that holds no threat at present. Including citing that al-Qaeda only has around 300 fighting members at the moment.

Very good book, the only downside is it's shortness. A little more time could have been spent on each chapter.
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Format: Hardcover
Having lived through a decade of the war on terror, I had not yet read a full length book on the subject. I followed the media, read news articles, book reviews, etc. I thought I had a good grasp of the issues. Having just read this excellent book, I realize there was much I did not know. This book disabused me of a number of misunderstandings. For example, I saw jihad as in large part an attack on the U.S. and Europe. Gerges shows that jihad has always had a more local focus and that Bin Laden's movement went against the grain. He also shows that Bin Laden alienated himself and Al Qaeda from the larger Muslim community and even other jihadi groups through his use of violence against the West. This is another thing I did not fully appreciate. Finally, Gerges explains the relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban in a way that makes it possible to distinguish them and their interests. Again, this was something that was a bit blurred in my mind prior to reading this book.
I would recommend and hope that many others, especially in the U.S., read this book. The war on terror has dominated our politics, culture, and legal system. It led us into two full scale wars. Given the profound affect it has had on our core institutions, we have a moral duty to have a basic understanding of the facts. There is no better person than Fawaz Gerges to help us fulfill this duty. In addition to being a leading scholar in his field, Gerges has been able to interview more people in the movement and access more source materials than a team of journalists and historians. As a non-expert in the field, this grounding in evidence is critical. Also, as a non-expert, I cannot read 10 books and 100 articles on the topic so I have to choose only the most informative, explanatory, and expert books on the topic. This is clearly such a book.
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