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The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden [Kindle Edition]

Mark Bowden
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From Mark Bowden, the preeminent chronicler of our military and special forces, comes The Finish, a gripping account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With access to key sources, Bowden takes us inside the rooms where decisions were made and on the ground where the action unfolded.

After masterminding the attacks of September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden managed to vanish. Over the next ten years, as Bowden shows, America found that its war with al Qaeda—a scattered group of individuals who were almost impossible to track—demanded an innovative approach. Step by step, Bowden describes the development of a new tactical strategy to fight this war—the fusion of intel from various agencies and on-the-ground special ops. After thousands of special forces missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the right weapon to go after bin Laden had finally evolved. By Spring 2011, intelligence pointed to a compound in Abbottabad; it was estimated that there was a 50/50 chance that Osama was there. Bowden shows how three strategies were mooted: a drone strike, a precision bombing, or an assault by Navy SEALs. In the end, the President had to make the final decision. It was time for the finish.

Editorial Reviews Review

While much has been written about the killing of Osama Bin Laden by an elite group of Navy Seals--and much more will be--no account could be more meticulous and balanced than this fascinating report from the author of Black Hawk Down. Riveting but evenhanded, dramatic but thoughtful, Bowden’s account is the deeply sourced story of what was going on in the heads of our government leaders, as well as the Al Qaeda leader known in the intelligence community as “The Pacer.” --Sara Nelson


“In-depth interviews with Obama and other insiders reveal a White House on edge, facing top-secret options, white-knuckle decisions, and unforeseen obstacles. . . . Bowden weaves together accounts from Obama and top decision-makers for the full story behind the daring operation.”—Vanity Fair

“A book — one with sweep and sophistication — about a pivotal, secretive operation . . . smart and measured, long on transparency and short on speculation. . . . Bowden enjoyed exceptional access, but wasn't captured by it. . . . Bowden’s lens is wide, encompassing Obama’s evolution as a politician and the peculiar influence of bin Laden . . . Where the book shines is in Bowden's reconstruction and refined analysis of the intelligence operations that turned up bin Laden's location. . . . The book also succeeds in its artful portrait of Obama as commander in chief. . . . compelling drama, and Bowden has captured it with skill and style.”—Seattle Times

“How all the president’s men and women finally nabbed the world’s most wanted terrorist is truly a stunning story. And while parts of it have been told, Barack Obama himself has confided in only one writer about all the details. And he is Mark Bowden.”—CNN

“The first book, and, to date, the definitive one, that looks at the Osama bin Laden raid from President Obama’s perspective. The Finish describes a new kind of war fighting—the fusion of intelligence from vast and scattered sources—to track and apprehend, or kill, the enemy. . . . It's a gripping tale.”—The Daily Beast

“The most accessible and satisfying book yet written on the climactic event in the United States' long war against al Qaeda.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The death of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks is a fantastic story. It has goodies and baddies, a long, slow build to the climax, exotic locations and lots of hardware. . . . Bowden [shows] how success in the raid last May was the culmination not just of a decade of often tedious data-crunching by the CIA and other analysts, but of a vast and ongoing effort within the American security establishment and government to develop a new range of capabilities. . . . How the Americans finally got their man is an extraordinary tale and Bowden does it justice.”—Guardian

"A superb storyteller, Bowden captures the tense drama accompanying the final months of the bin Laden hunt, even as he underscores the quiet, essential work of years."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Bowden’s new book outlines the changes in warfare since the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, and the way our increasing computational power has helped capture terrorists like Osama bin Laden.”—NPR

The Finish leverages access to key White House, military, intelligence, and foreign-policy officials—including President Obama himself—to get behind the intricate story of how SEAL Team Six was sent to Abbottabad, Pakistan, to kill Osama bin Laden. . . . Bowden reviews the evolutionary progress made in intelligence processing and military capabilities that led to the raid on Abbottabad. . . . close to a textbook example of complex national security decision-making.”—The Atlantic

“[A] dramatic narrative . . . the actual champion of the bin Laden hunt is a collective of mostly nameless hands within the intelligence bureaucracy. . . The Finish is at its best when Mr. Bowden goes deep into mission planning, gameboarding the choice of means of attack—air strike? sniper drone? ground-force raid?”—Wall Street Journal

“A page-turner . . . an informative, on-the-ground account of the mission. Adept at maintaining suspense even when the outcome is widely known, Bowden also makes judicious assessments of how much credit Obama deserves -- and the impact of the assassination on al Qaeda.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Bowden would seem like the perfect person to tell the bin Laden story. . . . There is an excellent setting-the-record-straight section at the end that has been missing in other volumes.”—Washington Post

“Bowden . . . reveals the details of the planning, but knows when to pull back from a close focus to give the wider view of what was at stake for President Obama, military planners and the Navy SEALS team. . . . [His] experience as a reporter and author shows.”—Fayetteville Observer

“Shaping up to be one of the fall’s big books.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bowden’s book draws back to look at the raid in strategic context. I suspect that readers who choose Bowden’s wide-angle approach will find themselves better informed.”—St. Louis Today

“To chart the tale of the hunt for the world’s most notorious terrorist, Bowden assembled an extensive history of the modern warfare and intelligence tactics that led to the rare, execution and deep-sea burial.” —Philadelphia Weekly

“[Bowden] uses his hard-earned access to focus on the decade of intelligence-gathering and decision-making that led up to the Abbottabad raid.”—National Post

The Finish paints the U.S. government’s relationship to technology and social media as integral in the capture of bin Laden. . . . Many see Bowden as one of the most respected writers covering the U.S. military and Special Forces today.”—Books & Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 798 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0802120342
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (October 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R070Z8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,836 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 136 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weakest Bowden work by far - what happened? November 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are several things wrong with this book, and they get worse as you approach the later chapters. I would have given up earlier, I only finished it so that I can write a qualified review.

First of all the writing style is nothing like other Bowden work. I don't know whether there was a bunch of rushed ghostwriters at work here or what happened, but the writing style is nothing like Bowden's other works, flat and repetitive. Editing also lacks, with some sentences making no sense, referring to the wrong person, missing quotation marks etc.

Speaking of repetitive, the whole book is based on very little actual information, it is just spread out in a wordy manner, and as I said the editors didn't shy away from becoming outright repetitive.

Then there is the issue of what original information there is. Apart from one interview with Obama which is mentioned in several places (but not a very revealing one either) much of the information seems to come from political staffers. That is kind of OK when we are talking about CIA personnel, but much of this book is white house staff work and description of conference rooms. Sorry I don't like it. And I did like other books that had a lot of administrative detail in them, so it's not just the topic. But it mixes not well with the repetitiveness.

The description of the actual raid is a huge letdown, too, since Bowden did decide to publish before he had access to anybody who was there. So in the end you learned a lot about political staffers' decision-making (such as speech preparation which is a central topic), people you never heard about before.

Amazon doesn't like reviewers to compare directly to specific other titles.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing December 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I found out that Mark Bowden, author of one of my favorite nonfiction books, Black Hawk Down, was writing a book on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I immediately preordered it and read it as soon as it arrived. Bowden is a strong writer and dedicated researcher with a talent for styling nonfiction reporting in a gripping fictional style, doing for Mogadishu what Truman Capote did for crime reporting in In Cold Blood and Tom Wolfe did for the Gemini astronauts in The Right Stuff. Unfortunately, little of that talent is one display in The Finish.

Bowden attempts, at the beginning of each chapter of The Finish, to introduce a fiction-like moment involving the main players in his story. A chapter will begin with someone in a vividly described moment--Obama on the morning of 9/11, Bin Laden in hiding--and almost immediately launch into flashback. Bowden often used this technique in Black Hawk Down, beginning with someone in action (Sgt. Eversman lifting off in a Black Hawk opens the book) but skipping back in time to fill in the background of the bloody raid in Mogadishu, but the flashbacks in The Finish never lead back to anything. The narrative loops backward, exposition happens, and then the next chapter begins and the process repeats. Beyond descriptions of 9/11 and the raid on Abbottabad itself, there is little concrete action for Bowden to exploit, as he has done so well in other books, and so the majority of the book feels like background, exposition, detail we'll need for later.

I'd blame it on source material and a rushed timeline. The research for The Finish appears to have been primarily interviews with major political figures.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mark Bowden what happened!? February 15, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the past I've read several of your works thus when I saw you had written on the subject of the killing of Bin Laden I got excited. Sadly as I clawed my way through each page I found myself wondering why was I re-reading the same data over again. Other reviews point out that you giving president Obama too much glory but I don't agree. I do think our president made this mission a priority and for that he enjoys honor. But once is enough to harp on this right?

Seriously Mr. Bowden, what happened?
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39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly not the author's best work November 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read most of Mark Bowden's books and found them well researched and written. Unfortunately, while the research may have been up to his standards, the book didn't provide many new facts nor were they presented in an interesting way. I was more annoyed with the author's comments that represented his opinion and seemed to be politically oriented. I expect non-fiction books to provide unbiased statements of facts (unless overtly stated on the book's cover).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not used to this from Bowden January 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Killing Pablo" and "Blackhawk Down" were two of the best SpecOps books that I have ever read, but this one seems like Bowden had someone yanking out the heart of his material. He does give some interesting background, but it just doesn't have the punch and pacing we have come love in Bowden's other books. A similar book, but much more readable (with the long background building up the raid) is Chuck Pferrar's "Seal Target Geronimo" , "No Easy Day" is a good read, but should be treated as fiction.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Love Song To Obama October 27, 2013
Format:MP3 CD|Verified Purchase
As many reviewers here have mentioned, I was impressed with Mr. Bowden and looked forward to his taking on the Neptune Spear raid. I needn't've bothered.

As "Kyle Chester" notes here, many who've reviewed this book (negatively, I presume he means) are tangled up in their own opinions of Mr. Obama, and I'm afraid that this (along with what I take to be a criticism of Mr. Bush, of organized religion, and the conduct of the Afganistan and Iraq campaigns) colored my opinions, as well.

I wouldn't've been surprised to find Mr. Bowden asserting that Mr. Obama was with the DEVGRU boys in J'Bad, and that he personally loaded their magazines, dialed in their radios, pinned their lunch money to their web gear, and had barbecue and beer waiting for them when they returned. I actually found myself thinking that the author believed that, had Mr. Obama not taken matters in hand, OBL would never have been hit. This is a slap in the face to those analysts, operatives, operators and other professionals who, prior to and well after 9/11 and up to OBL being forceably checked out of the net, never too THEIR eyes off the ball.

This book is nothing short of a love song to Mr. Obama. Credit where it is due, but leave us not exaggerate the man's this or any other instance.

The prose was sort of chatty to the point of "cartooniness", as if the author didn't want to inform so much as convince us. It was a hard book to finish. As other reviewers have already stated, there are better books out there on special operations, special operators, and this specific operation. Knowing what I know now, I'll read reviews more carefully in future before buying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed Account of the Hunt
Interesting read with a back story that stretched to the earliest days of Osama bin Laden. Details on the actual events in the compound in Pakistan were more limited than I... Read more
Published 6 days ago by G. Friese
1.0 out of 5 stars Pro obama piece.
Pro obama propaganda. Major disappointment from an author I once respected.
Published 12 days ago by Joey E. Boyum
3.0 out of 5 stars Got bored with all the verbiage
It took too long to get to the point. Got bored with all the verbiage. The ending was the best part of the book.
Published 13 days ago by Barbara Sneddon
1.0 out of 5 stars Garbage.
Absolutely nothing of interest happens in this book until pages in the 90's. And then, it's just repetition of publicly available information. Read more
Published 19 days ago by George Leroy Tirebiter
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Always enjoy reading Mark Bowden. Good, clear, succinct writing. Be sure to read his other one: "Guests of the Ayatollah", about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981
Published 1 month ago by power ranger 1
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after Black Hawk Down
I really liked Black Hawk Down - both the book and the movie - and looked forward to this book by the same author. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Schmitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Great balanced view
l liked the book for its balanced reporting. it reports what happened and why from multiple sources with the proper skepticism of why this source wants to tell his view.
Published 2 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars better than fiction
I read this book on Sunday and Monday of this Memorial Day weekend. I simply could not put it down. I am no Obama fan and never will be, but I did gain some respect for him and his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brad M. Martisius
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Very concise and fast moving background story on the hunt for OBL, would recommend it to anyone interested in how he was brought to justice.
Published 4 months ago by Mark W. Greenstreet
3.0 out of 5 stars The mass murderer gets his due.
Osama Bin Laden was a mass murderer. He killed because of his misguided religious fervor. In Bowden's book, the author details the life and times of the mass murderer, and the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kevin M Quigg
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More About the Author

Mark Bowden is the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, Killing Pablo, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.


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