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As an end-to-end report on the 15-year pursuit of Osama bin Laden, there may be no better primer than this Kindle Single, which covers the rise of the threat, the missed chances, the 9/11 attacks, the earnest manhunt, the distractions, the dearth of intelligence that followed, and the violent conclusion of the search. Tom Shroder edits dozens of contributors' Washington Post reporting from over fifteen years, resulting in an essential digest of the apex jihadist as considered through the perspective of CIA and the White House--no matter who issued your passport. --Jason Kirk
CONTACT TOM SHRODER OR READ HIS BLOG AT TOMSHRODER.COM FOLLOW TOM ON TWITTER @TOMSHRODER
Tom Shroder is an award-winning journalist, editor, and author. His most recent book, "Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal," was selected as a Washington Post notable book of 2014. His earlier book, "Old Souls," is a classic study of the intersection between mysticism and science.
Shroder is also co-author, with former oil rig captain John Konrad, of "Fire on the Horizon,the Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster." Sebastian Junger, author of "War" and "The Perfect Storm," says of Fire on the Horizon, "It's one of the best disaster books I've ever read.. . I tore through it like a novel, but with the queasy knowledge that the whole damn thing is true. A phenomenal feat of journalism."
As editor of The Washington Post Magazine, he conceived and edited two Pulitzer Prize-winning feature stories. His most recent editing project, "Overwhemed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time," by Brigid Schulte, was a New York Times bestseller.
In addition to being an author and editor of narrative journalism, Shroder is one of the foremost editors of humor in the country. He has edited humor columns by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tony Kornheiser, as well as conceived and launched the internationally syndicated comic strip, Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson. With humorist Barry and novelists Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, he concocted and edited "Naked Came the Manatee," a satirical serial novel.
Shroder was born in New York City in 1954, the son of a novelist and a builder, and the grandson of MacKinlay Kantor, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his civil war novel "Andersonville." Shroder attended the University of Florida where he became Editor of the 22,000 circulation student daily newspaper despite the fact that he was an anthropology major (an affront for which the university's journalism faculty was slow to forgive him). After graduation in 1976, he wrote national award-winning features for the Fort Myers News Press, the Tallahassee Democrat, The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Miami Herald. At the Herald he became editor of Tropic magazine, which earned two Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure.
Shroder is also known for his creation, along with Barry and Weingarten, of the Tropic Hunt, which has become the Herald Hunt in Miami and the Post Hunt in Washington, a mass-participation puzzle attended by thousands each year.
Wait for the insider version. Although it reads as advertised, the substance is too close in time to the event to give us the rich underpinnings of this search, including personalities and details, which make for the kind of riveting reading found in such books as "Too Big to Fail." It will take longer to get that kind of reportage in this case, but for starters this is an appetizer.
The Hunt for bin Laden traces the actions that culminated in the death of bin Laden. One is grateful for this piece and its strong central narrative. Still, it has to be said that the piece suffers from sloppy editing and, at times, unclear writing.
For example, the writer needed to say 1:15 PM or 1:15 AM, not just 1:15 Afghanistan time. The narrative concerning the certainty level of bin Laden's being there in the compound is a little garbled. Also, the use of slang can be disturbing. Maybe Navy Seals refer to going "tits up," but it seems more inept than anything else to say that the "Abbottabad compound was fishier than week old trout." (Remember how carefully Tom Wolfe handled the slang in The Right Stuff.) The piece doesn't always meet expected journalistic standards, and I wish it did. For example, the space shuttle Endeavour is referred to as the Endeavor. We are told once that Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan and then a few paragraphs later we are told that Islamabad is the "capitol."
I see a great deal of value in this sort of publication and hope that future examples will be more carefully produced.
With all the coverage that the Washington Post has on hand, I expected this to be an interesting and worth keeping "book." It is greatly disappointing, containing no images or graphics at all, and short to boot. A waste of even 1.99.
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Overall, Shroder does a good job in "the Hunt for Bin Laden," writing objectively and with authority but perhaps most importantly, omitting much of the "rah-rah," that some writers have put into the subject; giving the reader the facts in a nutshell without rushing through or becoming nakedly partisan when questions of politics and political will are in question. His approach seems to be "just the facts"--even when telling the reader of the Bush administration's refocusing our military's mission on the war in Iraq which drew personnel and resources away from the search for America's deadliest and most successful enemy since the second World War. One thing that is especially good about Shroder's narrative is that he accomplishes all that he does without resorting to bursts of cheerleader subjectivity and the too-friendly colloquialism that can be found in other books on the topic.
Tom Shroder's "The Hunt for Bin Laden," is obviously high-speed writing, but it is also high-quality, high-speed writing. It certainly needed additional work from an editor, but its editorial flaws are in places and of kinds that the average reader may not notice.
If you want to understand some version of what happened to Bin Laden for all those years and how we managed not to find him for nearly a decade after Al-Qaeda's seemingly immortal leader walked out of our grasp in the mountains of Afghanistan only to surface again in Abottobad in the heart of Pakistan, Shroder's: "The Hunt for Bin Laden" will provide you with a short, riveting read.
I recommend it highly.
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The book is well written. I would expect a more detailed and explained sequence, nonetheless it's understandable why they are not presented in more detail. My astonishment is how in God's name the most powerful and well equipped (military and technological) nation in this planet failed so many times to the point of embarrassment, to kill the most wanted terrorist on earth. You don't have to be a trained CIA agent to detect the lack of real purpose beggining from the janitor of Langley all the way up to the President and the people who supposedly are paid to give him their best assessment, all of them (with some honorable exceptions) did a poor job, and showed a complete lack of imagination. The bureaucracy,(which I may understand for IRS or other goverment agency) but in matters of High Priority National Security the inefficiency of many agencies who were supposed to understand history, other cultures and above all fanaticism, is depicted very clear in this book. Obviously they were more interested on their image, than protecting the people not only of the United States, but the free world. The merit of this book (obviously without the specific intention) lies on the fact that exposes what politicians don't care about: the lives of Americans who fought desperately to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, when it was obvious since 10 years before 9/11 that he was a serious, dangerous and deadly threat to the U.S. If you were able to ask to the thousands o people just in the Twin Towers who died crushed, burnt, suffocated etc, their opinion on why was this lunatic was not eliminated, you would be surprised from their answers and semtiment towards the people in charge of protecting them. The victims of 9/11 had the same right you an I have to live.Read more ›
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